By Alie Heenan
Around 3:45am on May 5th, moon shining above, cars pulled into the church parking lot in Dillon, CO. Board bags were stacked outside of the famed SFC Van, and soon enough, eight of us piled in for a 14-hour road trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA. The first few hours of the trip were quiet, but after a while, we talked and goofed and eventually kicked off the SFC Boot Camp: Spring Edition at Roberto’s, a popular Mexican restaurant in Mammoth. We enjoyed some Cinco de Mayo burritos, which were much better than the gas station burritos we had on the road…
First rule of road trips: don’t trust the gas station burritos.
After dinner, we gathered at Lighthouse Church, our meeting place for the weekend. Ryan introduced the theme of this SFC Boot Camp: The Heart of God Through Scripture. He shared about how many of us have a Formal Theology, what we have been taught and believe in our minds, and a Functional Theology, what we believe when the rubber meets the road. This trip was about bridging the gap: getting the truth we know in our heads about God’s love for us to settle deep into our hearts so that it makes its way into our everyday thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Yes! We ended the night at our beautiful host homes that local host Jamie McLeod coordinated for us, then settled into bed. Day 1.
The Heart of the Father
The next morning, I shared a short devotional about how vast and incomprehensible the grandeur and power of God is when we really try to think about it. It almost kind of breaks your brain to try to understand. I shared about God’s power to remove the barriers that keep us from knowing and experiencing the height, depth, width, and length of God’s love for us. After all, that’s why we signed up for this thing. Please God, do that. Remove barriers.
Ryan encouraged the crew to really seek God and his heart for us, and not to make the whole weekend about riding the iconic pink rails at Mammoth Mountain. The crew heard him, agreed, and then got very excited for pink rails. Haha. We rode Mammoth for the afternoon, then gathered at the Bowman’s for dinner and Rachel’s teaching on The Heart of the Father. As Rachel shared her testimony and highlighted God’s heart throughout it, I’m pretty sure you could’ve heard a pin drop. Scott said, “I literally couldn’t look away.” We were glued. Her story was so powerful. There were tears from some of us listening. There was conviction. There was this sense that we want to know God’s love like that. And this was only the first teaching.
We ended the night resting in the natural hot springs nearby, pointing out constellations and talking about those sorts of things that seem to bubble to the surface only when you’re sitting together beneath a sea of stars. Day 2.
The Heart of Jesus
The next morning, Drew shared a devotional about the paradox of growing in the knowledge of our own sin and growing in intimacy with God. We become aware of our deep need, our deep brokenness, and, paradoxically, it draws us to the one who can actually satisfy it. Drew had us split up into groups and share the thoughts or barriers we experience that keep us from believing that God wants to know and love us in the depths of our sin.
That afternoon, some went to ride Mammoth again. I went to local coffee shop Black Velvet with Rachel. Colton and Cam went thrifting. Others went to the Volcom Brothers Skate Park. Then we convened at Lighthouse for dinner generously provided by local couple Amy and Bruce and got ready for our second teaching: The Heart of Jesus. Ryan taught about Jesus’ willingness to heal the leper in Matthew 8. He had us close our eyes and imagine Jesus, looking at us with compassion, reaching out, slowly, gently to heal us, just like He did the leper. Ryan shared his personal testimony and how, through it, he learned first-hand what Jesus proclaims about himself in Matthew 11: “I am gentle and lowly in heart.” One quote that stuck with me was what Ryan shared from Dane Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly. It read, “The posture most natural to Jesus is not a pointed finger but open arms.” Gosh, we need to hear that; to remember that. Thank you Jesus. Help us to know that kind of love.
The Role of the Holy Spirit
The final morning, we gathered at Lighthouse for the final teaching of the trip: The Role of the Holy Spirit. Fittingly, Jamie McLeod didn’t start his session with a personal intro or a point by point teaching, but a sort-of workshop moment. He asked us to get out a piece of paper and sit quietly for a few minutes and simply ask God, “What do you want to say to me?”
Of course! Of course we would begin a session on the Holy Spirit by inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to us. So much of walking with the Spirit is experiential and experimental. You ask God to speak, and you step out in boldness and share what you think He’s saying. It’s a process. Maybe what you share will land with someone. Maybe it won’t. But sometimes, you’ll really be hearing God, and God will deeply impact you or someone else through it. Jamie shared stories and practical ways we can begin inviting the Holy Spirit into our everyday lives and personal ministries.
And just like that, Boot Camp concluded. We made sandwiches for the road, cleaned the church, jammed to an amazing Spotify playlist called, “i get knocked down, but I get up again.” We said goodbyes. Hugged. And eventually, Colton and Drew made their way back to Montana. The guys and I made our way back to Summit. (We avoided the burritos this time.) Day 4.
Now, over a week later, I’m still processing the truths Rachel, Ryan, and Jamie poured into us. Living every single day from God’s love and approval is a new way of living. It takes intention to really let those truths take root amidst busyness, struggle, and the ever-tightening grip of our old habits and thoughts. But by God’s grace and help, I think I’m getting somewhere. I think we’re getting somewhere.
Thank you to everyone who prayed, donated, prepped, and taught in order to make SFC Boot Camp: Spring Edition happen at Mammoth Lakes. With only one month of lead time, we are grateful for what God did in our short time together.
Until next time,