Breathing In and Breathing Out at AACF Staff Retreat

AACF had its annual winter Staff Retreat in late January. We gathered at a home in Oceanside, CA to fellowship, learn, and plan for our annual Leadership Training Conference (LTC) in the summer. It is always a blessing to gather with colleagues, co-laborers and share life together. We don’t get to see each other too often. Many of our staff are volunteers who balance fulltime day-jobs, church involvement, personal life, and friendships. Our staff are busy people. When we get together, it is a time to update one another on the things that have happened in life. It’s a strange thing: Even though we may only see each other a couple times a year, there is a deep comradery. Not only do we serve together in the same organization, each of us care for young Christians and desire to proclaim the gospel on the college campus. That conviction and purpose bonds us together. The fellowship between staff is sweet.

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We invited a spiritual director, Larry Warner, to lead us through a one-day retreat. The theme he gave us was Breathe. It was an appropriate topic for our busy staff. Larry talked to us about rest: the priority of rest, the importance of rest, the effects of not resting, and biblical rest. It was a time to evaluate the hectic rhythm of our lives – to bring our schedules before God. Psalm 3:4-6 says, “I call out to the

Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” It was an invitation to rest even though there are tremendous demands on our lives. Larry invited us to practice “holy drowsiness.” He framed it by quoting Eddie Ensley, “Many people feel guilty when prayer lulls them to sleep. Some ancient contemplatives felt this to be a special place in the heart of god. Francis de Sales said, ‘I had rather be asleep on the breast of God than awake in any other place.’ Teresa of Avila called it holy drowsiness and encouraged us not to feel defeated. Try to be well rested when praying, but if you fall asleep, remember you are in God’s arm, loving Him- you have not failed.” It was such a rich time of rest. I encourage you to practice holy drowsiness!

The retreat closed with planning. The staff reflected on our student leaders – their strengths, weaknesses, skillset, cultural issues, academic demands, and relational responsibilities. We believe that preparing these students to be leaders means that we need to minister to the whole person. Our goal isn’t to only pass on skills, but to shape them to be disciples who practice healthy leadership. The weekend was a good balance of rest and work.

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