2019 East Region College Youth Spiritual Convocation (CYSC) Reflection
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I share about my experience at CYSC.
In general, I don’t always feel like God is listening when I pray. I feel like I am just saying what is on my mind at the moment (and my mind is very scattered most of the time, so I don’t often find too much meaning in my prayers). Even when I get emotional in my prayers, I can’t tell if it is because I actually feel my burdens being lifted by God or if I’m just making myself sadder and sadder as I kneel there just thinking to myself. But even if I don’t feel a strong wind or a warm sensation when I pray, this week I found that God finds a way for me to hear what I need to hear at the moment.
For the past few months, whenever the sermon speaker asks the congregation to pray in silence before the message, I pray to God that He will put my heart in the right place. I don’t really know why I do it, or even what it really means to me, but I’ve been saying the same prayer for a few months now in hopes of staying focused throughout the sermon. On Tuesday, the evening prayer encouragement was about drawing near to the heart of God. In the last verse of hymn 388, the lyrics are “there is a place of full release, near to the heart of God. A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.” Right now, I feel like joy and peace are both things I am lacking more than usual in my life, and even though I don’t usually think much about a five-second silent prayer, God still answered the simplest of my questions by telling me that the right place for my heart to be is near to His.
Another time God reaffirmed His understanding of me was on Wednesday afternoon when I was at a bit of a low point. During dinner prayer, I talked to God about how lonely I felt and how I didn’t feel like there was anyone in my life I could truly and completely confide in. My problems were too specific and not relatable enough for anyone to care about them without judgement. In that prayer, I wasn’t asking for anything per se, but I just told God all the things I had been wanting to tell someone but couldn’t. That night, the evening prayer encouragement ended with the “Footprints in the Sand” poem. I saw myself as the person asking God why I was left alone during my lowest and saddest times, as the person who didn’t realize God was there for them the whole time—and even carrying them. I needed to hear that God never leaves us alone, especially when we are sad or frustrated. God was constantly carrying me through the darkest times—times dark it felt like He had left me alone. I had never heard that poem in full before, but I knew the main message. It was what I needed to hear after an afternoon of confusion, doubt, and negativity, and I was once again comforted by God’s way of showing me that He knows what I need even when I don’t know how to ask.
This CYSC’s theme is “Preaching the Gospel,” which is something that has always been tough for me to do. I haven’t brought any of my friends to church since elementary school because in recent years, every time I consider talking to my friends about coming to church or inviting them to ESSC, I play out the entire conversation in my mind in the worst possible outcomes.
“They’ll say no and I’ll be sad and be discouraged next time I ask.”
“They’ll say yes, get weirded out by the way we pray, and I’ll be too scared to ask anyone else again.”
“They’ll say yes but secretly just want to make fun of me and then I’ll never be able to trust my friends again.”
And so forth. Very counterintuitive and irrational, I know, but the thought of my friends rejecting my beliefs was something I believed I could never be ready for. One time for an RE activity, we had to choose a friend to write a letter to and invite them to our upcoming ESSC. I chose a friend, wrote a letter, and was ready to invite her, but I found myself throwing the letter away after ESSC came and went. My school friends are also usually very different from me and other people in our church, so I struggled with thoughts about them not being the church-going type or if they would be comfortable attending our services.
However, in this week’s evangelism classes and exercises, I learned that I shouldn’t only preach to those I think will accept the gospel. Who am I to choose who is saved or not? God is the judge. It is okay to be rejected by people I preach to because my job is to plant the seed, not to give the increase. With these lessons in mind, I am leaving CYSC with more determination, love, and courage to preach to people like my roommate, and also to family members who have left church.
God truly knows what we need more than we do ourselves. He gave me what I needed to hear when I was so upset, I didn’t even know what I wanted from Him in the moment.
God taught me many things this week, but I think the most important thing I personally learned this CYSC was that it is good to share. During lunch prayer on Tuesday, I prayed about something that happened in the past that had been hurting me for quite a while, and since emotions were running high, I unpreparedly testified to my team about something really personal during testimony session later that day.
It is hard for me to share things that are deeper than surface level, especially ongoing problems I am still dealing with because I have always been so averse to people giving me sympathy or not knowing what they are thinking of when they see me if they know some of my struggles. I dislike the feeling of vulnerability and would prefer for my personal problems to stay private. But at this CYSC, I found myself sharing about my past when I didn’t expect myself to, and crying in front of people that I had only known for a few days.
The reflection question of the day for Wednesday night sharing was, “What have you done to get closer to your CYSC goal?” Near the end of our sharing, one of the sisters in my room said something I thought was very insightful and meaningful. Without getting too specific, many of us had hoped that we would leave CYSC with a heart of joy or a heart of peace. And when she was listening to each sister share on the very first night, she already knew we were all going through something difficult in our lives. Despite the range of our ages, this was something we all had in common.
I suffered in silence, being the only one who ever knew about my own sorrows and I had never thought about it this way. We are all dealing with something, and we have comfort to find in sharing with people who care about us.
This concludes my reflection. May all the glory and honor be unto His holy name.