How a Delight Retreat Taught Me to Say Yes to God (pt 2)
The Delight Retreat was one adventure! From going with my local friend and fellow Delight girl Bridgette and meeting Ann Voskamp in the security line on the way at the airport (newsflash: my “Big Sister” Kerri was the one who first introduced me to one of my favorite books “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp! God has perfect timing AND a sense of humor!), to staying that first night in Nashville with the sweetest young married couple Elisabeth and Jon, God’s hands were all over this! Everyone I talked to that first day said the same thing:
“This is surreal!”
There were many alumni in attendance, but many newcomers as well. I finally met people I’d “known” and interacted with for years, so putting faces and personalities to names took some getting used to the first day or so. Meeting several of my fellow Big Sisters who I’d served beside for months was also a real treat! Never did I imagine I’d be attending my first retreat in this way, but God had been shaping and preparing my heart in the years before. I didn’t know how God wanted to use me here or why He’d made the way possible, but that only made me more expectant. All I knew heading into this was I was willing and open and weak in myself, and that’s all you need for God to show Himself strong.
Just like everyone else, I was hungry and desperate for more of God and for spiritual refreshment. I was excited to see what God would do when He showed up! And show up He did. His presence was all over that place - from the times of group sessions and worship down to the cooking and cleaning by volunteers, He was there. He was present in every conversation, in those “chance” meetings, in our personal quiet times, and small group meetings. And it was just plain FUN!
Being a Leader at the Delight Retreat
As a leader, you know you’re preparing for quite a ride. Even though we were having a great time interacting with the 40+ girls and leading our own sessions and small groups, we also knew we were in a spiritual war zone. The enemy didn’t like what the Holy Spirit was doing and wanting to do at this Retreat. We knew we needed to put on the full armor of God and to be covered in prayer. Aside from being encouraged ourselves though every talk and session, our own hearts were being tested, challenged, and convicted in deeply personal ways.
God did His own deep work in my heart in those four full days that felt more like a month. He renewed my hope about my photography dream and helped me commit the very dream into His hands. He revealed deep fears and hurts in my heart that I didn’t even know I had, or just how deep they truly went.
In fact, on that last day, I was experiencing a lot of personal spiritual warfare. I felt so unlike my normal self and knew I needed to get alone and pour out my heart before Him if I was going to make it through in a way that honored Him. All I felt like doing was retreating into myself and counting down the hours until I could return to my comfort zones.
To say that I felt weak and like a total failure would be an understatement.
I found a secluded spot and cried out to God, no longer holding back the tears. I hated feeling this way - this wasn’t me anymore. This was the me I knew at 13, not now at 23. And then God clearly spoke to my spirit in His own gentle, earth-shattering way.
“Bethany, I love you. Don’t give into this. Rebuke Satan’s lies and look to Me. Forget about yourself. You aren’t here for people to know you, you’re here so that you can show them Jesus - that’s all that matters. Say no to Satan, to yourself, and say YES to Me.”
Well, that did it. It’d be so easy to give into the lies and my own self-pity, but I knew if I did I’d regret it for the rest of my life, and there was NO WAY I was ending my time here on this note! As soon as I rebuked Satan and called him out on his games - trying to shut my mouth from showing Christ to these girls God loved - the heaviness that’d been crushing and suffocating my spirit all day lifted, and the peace and overwhelming joy of God took its place. I bolted to get ready and joined the others on their final group photo shoot - the one I was seriously considering missing out on.
God WAS going to have HIS way and the final say over my life, I didn’t care about anything else anymore.
When You Say Yes to God
When I showed up at the shoot, God had a special treat in mind for me. I wasn’t really expecting to have my pictures taken, but out of nowhere, who should walk up to me with her camera in hand but Janelle Putrich. “Bethany, you look so beautiful! Can I please take your photo?” Um, YES! My heart exploded with joy - not only because my favorite photographer was actually giving me my own photo shoot, but because in that moment, she was being used as God’s smile and “well done” to me - and she didn’t have a clue!
And then it hit me: if I’d given into my own feelings and hadn’t said yes to God, I would’ve missed out on a dream coming true. I would’ve missed being blessed this way. Mind blown! That night in small group, through many tears and embarrassing hiccups, I became very vulnerable and shared this same testimony with my six girls and fellow leader Katie. My heart was broken and overflowing with gratitude all at once. I couldn’t keep it to myself, and I struck up more friendships before the night was over with all self-consciousness gone. I left the Retreat on that good note, my heart full and refreshed and missing the girls and leaders already. God did His own special work on all our hearts, and I pray more girls will be able to say the same at future Delight Retreats.
I’m grateful for how God has used Delight in my life, because now more than ever I’m seeing how obediently stepping outside of my physical and internal comfort zones and straight into weakness is necessary to seeing Him show Himself strong on my behalf.
It was a joy to decrease so that He could increase, and to see Him rise up in my nothingness. In my very undoing, He did things only He could do in my heart. All I can say is, “Lord I am willing to be made willing. Just keep having Your way and Your say. And help me to keep saying yes to You. No matter what it will mean or bring.”
Really, beautiful things happen when you just say yes to God.
** If you're interested in attending our upcoming Spring Retreat, click HERE to read all the details! Registration opens Sunday, January 22nd and only 15 spots are available! **
Bethany Beck is a 23 year old sentimental at heart and old soul, living and loving life in New York City with her large, close knit family. She was first introduced to Delight in 2013, became a Big Sister in 2016, and recently fulfilled a long time dream by attending her first Retreat a few months later. She’s also a seasoned PK, a sister to 6, doting aunt to 5 + counting, homeschool alumni, happy nanny, and the treasurer of her Brooklyn based church. She dreams of being a wife and mom, a professional photographer, writer, traveling the world, doing missions and humanitarian work, and simply desires to be the the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she is! Instagram: @bethanyclare_
Images by Janelle Putrich