Caving in to God: Reflections on the Men's RetreatRich Stigall
When I was a kid, maybe 12-years-old, my best friend and I looked for places to push the limits. We would find storm drains to crawl through, trees to climb and new trails to blaze around our lake. When the lake froze over, we made sure the ice was four inches thick before sliding out on it. We never believed that the cracks beneath our feet would ever amount to anything dangerous. If anything, it made us feel more alive.
Somewhere along our journey, my friend and I grew up and started playing it safe. We got jobs, got married, bought houses and started having kids. We lost ourselves in our salaries, job titles and keeping up our appearances. We found excuses to play it safe. These days we outsource our friendship for Facebook to manage. Maybe you can relate.
But two weeks ago in Woodland Park, Colorado, 38 men tossed safe excuses out the window. The GO Adventures “Caving in to God” Men’s Retreat used three days and three nights in the mountains to hot wire our hearts for God. The rules were simple: stay up late, get up early and go home inspired. And everyone played by the rules.
In addition to rafting down the Royal Gorge and hiking up The Crags to 11,000 feet, the retreat included five speakers who laid out their stories and advice in blunt terms. Randy Reed explained how selfish ambition is just a road to failure. Mike Fox laid out his heart and asked everyone to do the same. Larry Powell defined everything we have as God’s, not ours. Al de la Roche shared his struggles and victories as a father. And Jimmy Dodd sent everyone home with a renewed vision for living life with God.
To be honest, we weren’t sure what would happen with this retreat. We hadn’t done one before, and realized that there were a lot of options out there for guys. What we did know was that we wanted people to experience the personal transformation that usually happens on a GO Project Vision Trip. The trick was to bring this same level of emotional limit-pushing to a retreat center in Colorado. We wanted to have fun, but we didn’t want to play it safe. We wanted our group of men to remember what it was like to feel alive. And to feel alive for God.
Leading up to the retreat, GO Adventures staff conducted prep calls with each of the retreat participants. The names of participants were also sent out to the speakers, staff and friends to pray over. We knew without a doubt that if these men were going to “cave in to God,” that God was going to make that happen. Not us.
Looking back, God was with us for those three days and nights. 38 men caved in and blazed new trails in their lives. For days after the retreat, we received phone calls, cards, text messages and emails from the participants confirming that God was working in their hearts.
As one retreat goer said, “This was one of the most meaningful times in my life. Going deep, surrendering to the Lord, confessing my brokenness in a place of love and support, and leaving the weekend encouraged and hopeful.”
All this is simply to give thanks to God for opening up the hearts and lives of 38 men on a mountainside in Colorado. Yes, there will be more retreats. But our hope is that one day these three-day retreats in Colorado won’t need to happen. Our hope instead is that down the road these conversations will happen every day in your driveways, living rooms and board rooms. The time for playing it safe is over.