There are a bunch of red ribbons hanging from my desk.
Last week, I had an opportunity to spend a week at the Journey Canada Intensive – a week-long retreat we host every year near Calgary. It’s a chance for church leaders and others to participate in the Journey program in a short and intense way (thus the name). It was attended by about 44 participants this year. During the week I co-led a small group of guys and did some teaching with the larger group.
The Intensive week was a reminder to me of why I’ve got involved in the ministry of Journey. As Christians, we’re told all the time that God loves us – we hear it in sermons and we read it in the Bible and in Christian books – but it’s hard to make the love of God real in our lives. As a general rule, we don’t actually feel like we’re loved by God. In fact, a lot of us turn the love of God into a theological fact rather than a lived reality – we know that we’re loved by God, but it really doesn’t have any impact on our day-to-day lives.
Part of the reason it’s hard for us to receive God’s love is that we’ve been hurt in the past and we attempt to cover up the wounds these hurts have left. These cover-ups can include all kinds of behaviours that aren’t good for us – manipulating people, indulging in various addictions, and isolating ourselves. These patterns can keep us from receiving the love that God has for us – a love that never changes and is always available. Journey provides a safe place for people to look at their lives, identify some of the areas of their hurts, and begin to accept God’s love in those areas.
The results of what Journey does are amazing. Simply by providing safety and structure, combined with prayer and an openness to the Holy Spirit, we are seeing lives changed. It is awesome to see what Jesus does when we are honest about our experiences and open our lives up to His healing. At the Intensive I had an opportunity to teach on forgiveness, and at the end of the talk I challenged people to take a red ribbon, symbolizing something that they had been unable to forgive in their lives, and bring that unforgiveness to the cross. Person after person brought up a ribbon – sometimes representing terrible hurts and pain – and looked to Jesus to help them begin to forgive and receive His healing. We saw people accept the freedom of forgiveness for longstanding hurts, receive love and grace for the legacy of abuse, and begin to see themselves and truly and deeply loved. After the evening was over, we gathered the ribbons up and I have them as a symbol of the healing power of the cross.
Since my last update, I’ve joined the Journey team as a full-time staff person. It has been such a privilege and an honour to begin to walk with people as they learn more and more about what it means to be in a relationship with Jesus, and I could not be more excited.
We still have a long way to go before we are 100% financially supported, and if you would still like to be part of the team, you can click on the link to the right to become one of our financial supporters.