When people ask about the meaning of our conference title—“Not Alone”—I haven’t been quite sure how to answer. Until last week. A comment at last week’s faculty meeting gave me a brilliant way to describe the conference to others—and moved me solidly into the category of edge-of-my-seat-can’t-wait-to-be-there.
"One of our core goals,” my colleague suggested, “is to move people toward a relationship with God that is every bit as real as their relationships with other people."
My heart skipped a beat as I processed the magnitude of the hope he was holding out. I am yearning for a deep experience of that but not feeling it right now, I thought, and I bet I’m not the only one.
Real Relationship with God
I have walked with my Father in intimate ways in numerous seasons. However, the week leading up to the meeting had been an intense one, and, in the midst of numerous pressures and a lingering summer cold, I was not feeling especially connected to God. The idea of relating to God with the same comfort and mutuality I have with close friends was the spiritual equivalent of catching the smell of pie baking in the oven. I went from general weariness to ravenous spiritual hunger in a split second.
I realized that even though we can’t promise that every person at the conference will walk away with a palpable sense that Jesus is with us every single day, we really are after something awesome this October. When we open the Scriptures together, we are hoping for nothing less than an ocean of intimacy and personal connection with our Father to come flooding over us.
Personally, I hope that the conference impacts my prayers more than anything. From my experience, you pray differently when you're really talking to somebody. We’ve all had that experience of feeling like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and no one is there. But those of us who have had the privilege of speaking to him can testify that it changes the way you pray. If I believe I have the ear of a true friend, then I am going to speak about what's really on my heart, instead of going through the motions.
Pray with Us for the Conference
Wouldn’t it be cool if something as simple as gathering for a conference actually gave hundreds of people a taste of rich intimacy with God himself? If this weekend transformed lives by replacing an abstraction with a friendship? It is hard to overstate the long-term potential impact of a weekend of coming boldly, desperately and hopefully to our Lord.
Is this all setting the bar too high? It sure feels that way, doesn’t it? Yet this kind of living, breathing relationship is precisely what our Heavenly Dad is after with every one of his kids.
So, if you think of it, would you pray? Please pray for the speakers and organizers as we seek to be vessels of radical refreshment. Please pray that the Spirit would speak to every person who comes for the weekend. It’s quite a lot to ask. But our God is just the kind of God who actually might use our labors in the coming months to open fire hydrants of living water that blast through the dull, dry, distant experience of God that many of us feel.