Words are not enough.
My heart is so full of joy and anticipation for what is to come, yet somehow I am struggling to articulate it.
After spending three days leading on what is, to date, one of the most incredible Chrysalis Flight’s I have ever served on, I am still overwhelmed by the experience.
Chrysalis is a three-day retreat for young adults, which focuses on Christianity as a way of life from a New Testament perspective. While Chrysalis runs to a very tight schedule, filled with purposeful, intentional talks, experiences and worship, it is often the people who come to serve who make the experience unique. It is their readiness to work together with other Christians from varying denominations and walks of life, and then their willingness to share aspects of their life as an encouragement, which has the potential to change lives. Participants are often reminded that what is shared on the weekend is purely out of love for them. It is but a glimmer of God’s incredible and unconditional love for us.
I attended my own Chrysalis Flight in the year 2000 when I was nineteen. For me, I had come from a stable Christian home with loving parents who had brought my brother and I up in God’s love (despite the bumps along the way). Sadly, they had stopped going to church for a lengthy period of time due to the verbal and emotional abuse they had suffered at the hands of their church leaders, which had left them vulnerable and lacking faith in the church as an institution. While we did not attend church for that time, God was ever present in our lives, weaving, guiding and leading people across our path who would do what the church should have done for our family…. love us.
I gave my life over to Jesus at the age of thirteen during a time of worship on my first high school camp. We were singing ‘The Power of Your Love’ and all I remember was Jesus surrounding me with his Holy Spirit, and it felt like I was home. Yet, despite this experience, I then did not ‘feel’ God moving in my life until I attended my Chrysalis Flight almost six years later.
Growing up in church meant I had taken communion many times before. I had known the concept of what it meant, but had I really realised what it meant for me?
For the gift of God’s only Son to be broken and torn apart on a cross for me… so that I may truly know my Father in Heaven…
No. I had not really contemplated the cost.
I had taken communion time and time again with my mind, spirit and soul on autopilot. Whilst there were times I desperately wanted to feel the Holy Spirit speak to me during this experience, it did not happen until I attended that first Chrysalis weekend all those years ago.
Since then, I have realised that there will be times where I may not feel Christ actively moving and speaking into my heart. This however does not mean He is not with me.
When you leave an experience like Chrysalis, where you literally have to put away time, devices and distractions and focus purely on God in every hour of the day for three days straight, it can be a shock moving back into reality. The work, university or school deadlines are still there, the clock now ticks on and you might struggle to keep up, wishing time would slow so you can spend that little bit more time in the quietness of God’s presence. Having led on team approximately seven times since my own Chrysalis experience over the last fourteen years, including organising and running a weekend in a Lay Director role, I know all too well the fall that can come after the Flight.
Words are not enough.
As much as we may not want to admit it, Satan attacks when we are freshly vulnerable from such a beautifully emotive experience. In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptised, the Heavens broke open, the Holy Spirit fell upon Him and God spoke over his Son. It was straight after this, that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan in Matthew 4.
If you are struggling with this right now, take heart. Jesus has walked it before you.
When we open our heart and soul wide, there may be room for more than just the light of God to get in…
Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) states,
Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”
Sometimes the light we may think we have could just be the ‘feel-good’ experience of connecting with new friends. It could be that we are holding onto the words of encouragement and compliments we were given over a weekend such as this, and then we find ourselves missing that degree of attention when we move back into our everyday life.
Whilst we are called to love one another and share in fellowship together, the light we actually need is Christ.
Only He can fill the empty void in your heart.
If you are feeling filled purely because of the positivity of those who shared the experience with you, it may be a sign you need to go deeper… to find the real thing. Our desire should be to fill those darkest corners of our heart with Christ alone.
One of the most beautiful realisations I witnessed over the weekend was the girls acknowledging that we all wear masks. These masks may take the form of make-up, social media profiles, or a personality portrayed to others in public. These masks, whatever the form, create darkness. When you put on a mask it covers your whole face, creating a dark shadow. The thing about the masks that many of us wear these days is, they do not just cover your face, they also cover your soul.
When we look down instead of up… there is darkness. There is a shadow. There is the water that we are attempting to walk across that suddenly becomes too frightening to bear.
When we look up (like my grandmother always used to say)… then, only then can our face be covered with His light. Then we can see the only thing we need to see in order to keep going… Jesus. He will show us the way. He promises that He will be found, if we seek Him out…
As Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us…
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Let Jesus gently remove that mask and fill you with His light. Be open to His love. Be brave and let His Word rule in your life. Never stop seeking His face.
For the new ‘Butterflies’ who have just grown through the transformation that is Chrysalis, I pray that God speaks into your hearts clearly, so that you can keep flying for Him and with Him. He promises to never leave us (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV). Even in those times where you may not feel His presence as closely as you did on your three-day experience, never give up on experiencing His love in amazing ways (that will be crafted just for you) as you continue on your life journey. God has moved in me just as much by serving on team (time and time again) as He did when I first attended my own Flight. I now assist to coordinate a church service which my parents helped to plant many years ago thanks to the prayers and actions of a dear Christian friend who was passing away from cancer at the time.
We may not know exactly how Christ is going to use us after our Chrysalis experience. The next steps can be the hardest. We just need to be ready to show up with a willing heart and let His light and love flow in. Once we are filled with Him, then even in our brokenness and vulnerability, we can love others in the way He has called us to…
Fly with Christ.