Heavy Rain, Thieves, and Fortresses

one man’s reflections on 3GEN's recent PURSUIT Men’s Discipleship Weekend at Windy Gap, NC | by jay borck

Two nights and three days away. There were projects at home that I hadn’t started, and a lot of projects I couldn’t find time to finish; two soccer games on Saturday morning that I’d miss. Heavy rain was forecast all weekend and every time it rains, I get a Nextdoor email from a neighbor announcing that their car was broken into or their bike or their lawn equipment was stolen. Of course they should lock their doors!  That’s not the point. The point is, there would be thieves with rain jackets pillaging most neighborhoods in Greenville between Midnight and 2am Friday and Saturday night. My wife and four kids would be home alone, the thieves like the rain, and it was raining hard in Greenville as I was driving to the mountains for the PURSUIT Men’s Discipleship Weekend hosted by 3GEN Ministries.  

My wife had been praying for this weekend, though. I think she knew more than I did how much I needed it. And once we got settled into our rooms, and we sat down to eat, the burdens I carried to the weekend started fading away.

I was 15 years old when I first experienced a weekend at Windy Gap with friends from Young Life in Tucker, GA. There was a smokers’ pit then - where the gaga ball pit is now. There was a lot of talk of girls’ cabins being pink and boys’ cabins being blue and that there shouldn’t be any purple during the weekend. I understood that. And I remember where I sat beside the creek and I asked the Lord to forgive me and I accepted Jesus’ death and resurrection for what it is - an overwhelming display of love so that I could truly know Him. And I can’t forget all the times I haven’t held up my end of the commitment I made to Him beside that creek all those years ago.

So, walking over the same creek each morning to breakfast, I realized that this Men’s retreat was - more than anything - a time of reunion with my Father. There’s something about walking to breakfast in the morning without the responsibilities of the work day ahead.  And there were no shoes to tie; no stroller to park. There were faces I knew, and many that I didn’t. And they looked rested, relaxed for the first time in a long time. There was laughter.  And each time I heard Chuck Scott speak, and his voice would break as he read Scripture to/for us, my defense mechanisms unlocked. 

“Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the person of his neighbor.” Proverbs 27:17 This is the Aramaic translation of this Proverb and it’s the translation that I understand best today. “... a man sharpens the person of his neighbor.” I needed to learn from and listen to men I respect. I needed to laugh and not worry about a schedule…to pray for my family at home and remember “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea... Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-2;10-11

A good friend called me as we drove back to Greenville in our separate cars on Sunday morning. We talked about the impact of the weekend for each of us, and how we’ve each been too self-reliant and too proud to ask for help from the Lord (and from each other) when we needed it. We talked (about what really matters) for the first time in a long time. So, when I got home, the burdens I carried to Windy Gap didn’t carry the same weight. “Iron sharpens iron...” without question, and even more, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” I needed this Men’s retreat to remember - that the only peace I’ll ever know - is in relationship with Him.  And if I hope to be a reflection of His strength to my family, His strength is the only strength I’ll ever need.  I can’t wait for next year.

Travis Runion