The tranquil NorthwoodsThe beautiful and tranquil setting of the Northwoods  removed all distractions and enabled me to wholeheartedly focus on God. I had not expected Him to work as powerfully as He did. There are just so many ways He touched and changed my life.

In the middle of the week I felt discontent, restless, and frustrated. My team had completed all the ungodly heart conditions, but my own cold and distant one had not broken yet. My guilty conscience tried to tell me that I’d already been changed and broken. However, I was to meet God in a powerful way later that night.

God Loves Me!After dinner, we watched a video called Father’s Love Letter. God revealed Himself to me in such a loving way and showed me how needy I was spiritually. Consequently, there wasn’t one moment where I was not crying! Two particular verses stuck out to me: Ephesians 3:14-15 and John 1:12-13. These can be paraphrased: “I have always been Father, and will always be Father. My question is . . . Will you be my child?” Sadly, they spoke of my own spiritual condition.

I realized that I had been seeking God’s love from everything else except Him. I sought people’s acceptance over God’s, and had developed fears of rejection and man as a result. I looked to people for approval and guidance, while ignoring God my Father who loved me more than anyone else. This understanding broke my heart and filled me with shame and grief.

After the video ended, I got on my knees to pray, overwhelmed with the truth of the above verses. I cried out “Father God” and suddenly His love flooded my heart like never before. The rest of the week, I experienced such closeness with Him as I had never felt in the past. Only now do I understand how incomparable God’s love is. I love this paraphrase of Romans 8:31-32: “I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love.”

God used the girls on my teamThrough the encouragement and direction of my team leader, I developed a habit of daily devotions and journaling. At the beginning of the week, she instructed us to have an hour of quiet time—something I was unaccustomed to—and I groaned inwardly at the thought of losing one whole hour of sleep. However, through the example set by the other girls and God’s grace, I instilled this precious habit. This alone has been more of a blessing than I ever could have imagined, as God has given me new eyes to see His Word and a fresh love for the Bible.

AnnaliseHe also blessed me with godly friendships with my teammates. I came home with precious memories, a contrite heart, a yearning for God, and a joyous excitement to follow Him. God has truly changed my heart and given me a stronger desire for Him.

~ Annalise
September 2009 Girls’ Journey