Over the last five years, one of my favorite BSM events has become our statewide winter prayer retreat, Abide. The retreat occurs toward the end of January, just a week or two after classes have begun for the Spring semester, and provides BSM students and staff from across the state the chance to gather together outside of Austin for two days with the sole intention of seeking after God in prayer.
Students from BSMs all over the state gathered a few weeks ago in Waco to form this year's State Lead Team and plan out this January's Abide encounters. These encounters are essentially prayer rooms, each focused on some particular topic or style of prayer. There was a room for praying for the nations, one for praying for forgiveness and confession, one for prayers for obedience, prayers for family, prayers of thanksgiving. All night long (literally; we have students who don't sleep during the Abide retreat) students pray together.
The retreat begins on Friday evening with a worship set, put on this year by the band from UTPA's BSM. Then the weekend closes with another worship set on Saturday at two in the afternoon. The rest of the time is up to each individual. Students are free to meander through the Abide encounters; spend time alone with God; talk, share and pray with fellow students; sleep; eat; worship through music; pray around the fire pit; take a walk through the camp; visit the prayer garden; really just do whatever they need to do with God. The free schedule is very stress-free, a good refresher after the first week or two back to classes, and a great jump-start into the new semester.
Though the state lead team chooses a verse or passage to be the theme of each year's Abide retreat, my own personal theme verse for the weekend was John 15:7, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you," because I have been reading through John this year. What does it look like to really abide in Jesus? For me at the start of this semester it meant refocusing even more on prayer, Bible reading and scripture memorization. First, I turned off the radio in my car on the way to work in the mornings, to spend the drive dedicating the day to the Lord, thanking Him for another day of new mercies and opportunities for ministry at UTD, and asking Him to guide me through the day. It meant digging in deeply to my Bible and spending longer chunks of time reading it than I was used to. And it meant asking my students to practice memorizing Scripture with me, asking them to hold me accountable to what I've said I want to do.
Just a few days after returning from Abide I read Psalm 91, which also speaks of abiding in God. The psalmist uses many words to convey the idea of safety in the Lord: shelter, refuge, fortress, shield, cover, dwelling place and protect. By abiding in Him--by spending time with Him, studying His Word, praying to Him, praising Him, meditating on His Scriptures--I am confident that I am secure. And by abiding in Him, I believe my ministry at UTD will only get better.
Kinsey Cline serves as a campus missionary at the University of Texas at Dallas with Go Now Missions.