RAM AWAKENING: April 7, 2017 – Post 5
This weekend, about 130 college students will be attending Ram Awakening, a Catholic retreat in the mountains that’s mission is to grow students in their faith. This retreat has a very special place in my heart. A friend gave me an intentional invite to attend my sophomore year, and although I was incredibly hesitant, she persisted in encouraging me to go. That weekend marked a drastic turn in my faith. It was on that retreat that I first experienced God’s love as a Father.
Before attending, I had been gradually increasing in my faith and was working on developing a relationship with God, but my idea of what that meant was misconstrued. I had been believing that in order to grow closer, I must serve and please more. But our relationship with God is not meant to be representative of the relationship between a slave and his master, but rather between a son and his father.
Ironically enough, my bible study studied the parable of the Prodigal Son this past week, which conveniently (and certainly divinely) allowed this truth to resurface: God desires a Father-Son relationship with us. One in which we ask and He delivers. One in which we seek comfort and He radiates His love and mercy.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, this kind of relationship is simply seen in the younger son’s return to the father and the father’s joy in accepting him. But what my bible study girls and I decided to focus on is the more hidden representation of that relationship between the older son and his father as well.
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
The older son in this parable is representative of us, when we allow ourselves to believe that our relationship with God is nothing more than us serving and obeying Him. The older son in this parable is representative of me prior to Ram Awakening. But the father says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” We discussed what this meant, and one of the girls in my study proposed the question, “So then, if the older son had asked for his own calf and celebration feast, would the father have given it to him?” Now, although the parable doesn’t explicitly answer this question, we began to draw our own inferences and came to the conclusion that that’s exactly what the father is saying. He wants his son, not just to live under his roof and obey him, but to approach him in love, and ask for the desires of his heart. Similarly, God wants us to approach Him and ask Him to satisfy the desires of our heart as well.
This is what was revealed to me on the Ram Awakening retreat 2 years ago, and it has remained a fundamental aspect of my faith ever since. Prior to attending this retreat, I never viewed myself worthy or capable of approaching the Lord. I never imagined myself, burdens and sins in tow, approaching and asking Him to heal my broken heart, to give me the strength necessary to get through a difficult time. But on that retreat, my understanding of what a true relationship with God entails and allows changed. No longer afraid of rejection, I approached Him, like a son would approach his father. And since that day, the Lord has continued to encourage me, not to simply serve and obey, but to ask and receive.
Ram Awakening presents a beautiful opportunity for college students to grow in their faith and deepen their relationship with our Lord. But all the retreaters and staffers alike need your prayers and support. My request is that you take 15 minutes to offer up a few prayers for those embarking on this faith journey. The Lord is going to work wonders, but with your consistent and intentional prayers, His love and mercy can be manifested even more greatly.
Maddie Zenk is a junior biomedical science major at Colorado State University. She is also a very active member of Ram Catholic. Maddie is on the Student Advisory Board, leads Bible Studies, and helps to evangelize on campus. Ram Catholic is excited to follow her journey this Lent!
“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” -Hosea 10:12
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