church's youth group to Acquire the Fire in Phoenix. For those who don't know, ATF is an intense Christian youth conference that travels around the states during the year. It consists of worship, sessions, skits and interactive surveys. This year it took place at the state fairgrounds from 7pm-10:30pm on Friday night and 8am-9pm on Saturday.
Now, I've been to a couple of Acquire the Fires in the past with another youth group I used to help lead over, but this year there was something different in the air. It could have been the intimate melodies from the worship band, Unhindered. It could have been the sessions and skits that spoke to the youth about real-life issues like pregnancy and acceptance. It could have even been the close fellowship I had with the youth group I was with.
The more I think about it though, the more I realize what it was that made this year different than others I have attended ATF in: The theme this year was having an encounter with God. But the main subject that was spoken about was being smitten in love with God. Smitten. Rhymes with mitten and kitten, pigeon and rippen. Even rhymes with fitten. Not sure some of those are even words. Anyway, smitten. The definition of smitten is to be very much in love. Smitten with God. Very much in love with God.
I think we as Christians sometimes get lost in the rules and regulations of religion and overlook the three most important elements of life: faith, hope and love. Love. To be in love with God. To be in love with the One who created us. God knows the number of hairs on our head. Psalm 139 speaks of how God's thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God sings over us.
We overlook these things on a daily basis. That God thinks about us, that He sings over us. Who are we that God would take the time to do these things? One of the speakers at ATF mentioned how God woos us like a groom woos his bride. God knows our favorite things, our hopes and dreams, our passions and desires. He tries daily to bring these things to us, to surprise us, to rejoice in us. Do we have our eyes open to experience these things or are we so caught up in our daily lives that we don't even acknowledge that God is there - unless of course something is going wrong in our lives. Needless to say, this conference - though it was designed for youth - really opened my own eyes to who God really is and what He means to me.
On top of the awesome experience at ATF, I was able to hear and meet female worship singer, Sarah Reeves and her band. She was selling CD's and she and the band were signing them. I even took the photo op and got a picture with her. She has an amazing voice and her songs speak to the heart about drawing closer to God, breaking down walls and rising up in unity with each other. Awesomeness!