The Navigators Florida Regional Spring Conference 2008
The first weekend of this month I drove down to Hudson, Florida with a car full of students to the Navigators state-wide spring conference. Students from UF, USF and UCF joined us at Word of Life Camp, bringing the total number of people close to 130. Each year we only have one of these so it’s a pretty big deal. As you can see from the photo above FSU brought a pretty large group. Our guest speaker was Drew Frazer, Nav staff at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He spent the weekend asking us the question, “How big is your God?” He challenged our students to consider the God talked about in the Bible, the phenomenal power He has and what He has been able to do through people who trusted Him, verses our view of who He is and what He is capable of doing. Do we box God in, believing that He’s not capable of doing whatever He wants?
Here’s an example of what we heard over the weekend. In one of his illustrations, Drew compared these two views of God to the two times in his life he’s interacted with elephants. The first was when he was a child and went to Busch Gardens. He took a ride on an elephant’s back while a man guided it with what was essentially a pole with a nail on the end. The second was when he was in college and on a mission trip to Africa. He was on a safari when, through a series of events, the group he was with faced an extremely angry alpha male elephant that was ready to destroy their van! We often treat God as through we can lead Him around just like that first elephant, that we’re the ones in control. But the reality is that that elephant holds an incredible amount of strength and power, that’s we’re all but helpless if it wants to cause us harm. The good news for us is that our God is working for our good (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, we can call on Him and He will answer (Jeremiah 33:3).
Since I’m on staff I had the privilege to lead a discussion group after each of Drew’s three talks. This was one of the most enjoyable things I got to do all weekend. Nothing is more encouraging than to hear how a message has impacted the students you’re working with. Drew did a great job of challenging our view of who God is. My favorite follow-up question had to do with God’s promises. Drew had just showed us a number of promises from Scripture that he’s personally been praying over and pleading over throughout his Christian life. It was so fun to watch as different students said they were going to start praying over a variety of these promises, asking that God would fulfill them in their lives.
Saturday morning students attended one of six different workshop. These workshops were led by staff members from the various campuses. I wasn’t leading one of them, so I was free to attend a workshop too. I looked at the sign-up sheets for names of students I was interacting with through Bible study or one-on-one mentoring. From this it looked like going to Andy Farina’s workshop on pursuing God in your 20s was the best choice. Andy is one of my favorite teachers I’ve ever encountered. He always brings a fresh and unexpected look at something you think you have all figured out. The workshop made us think about what it was that gives us life, then comparing our definitions to what the Bible says about what should give us life. Our homework, if you can call it that, was to ponder the questions “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” and “Who do I want to be with?” We left the workshop with a thought out of Deuteronomy 30:20 — “The LORD is your life.”
One thing that’s unique about these conferences is the amount of free time given on Saturday afternoon. Students used this time to process some of what they’d learned, to hang out with new and old friends, and to play sports. A diligent few even used the time to study. There are about four straight hours where there’s nothing on the schedule. The camp we stayed at had a paintball course, so many of the staff and students played some paintball. I didn’t play, but from what I heard the FSU crew dominated.
Throughout the weekend I got time with various students and asked them their impressions about the conference. Without exception they each told me that they felt convicted and were determined to enlarge their view of who God is, that they’d begin to believe that He can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).” I’m excited to see what God will do through a group of students who are asking Him for unimaginable things! I’m going to try to get some of these students to write a short blurb on what they experienced so you can see things from their perspective. I left very encouraged and excited about the rest of the semester. I’m confident that God will do some amazing things as a result of this weekend.