Reflection: Brengle West

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Western Territory holds ‘Transformed’ holiness retreat at Camp Del Oro.

By Kari Brodin –

My cell phone buzzed and I saw my sister Lisa’s name displayed. When I answered, she asked, “Hey, are you busy February 6-9? Do you want to come to a retreat? I think you’ll like it.” I arranged for time off work, booked flights and then learned I’d just agreed to attend “Brengle West: Transformed.” I got nervous.

I’ve long struggled with the idea of holiness. I remember talking about it with my friend, Amy, when we were both teens. I wanted to be holy, but who could possibly be that perfect? Who could possibly meet all those expectations, all those demands?

But the deed was done; I’d signed up and purchased nonrefundable plane tickets, so off I went.

Getting to the retreat was difficult. Five gate changes. One malfunctioning plane. A three-hour flight delay, leaving me with only three hours of sleep in order to get to the venue by 8 a.m. on Friday morning. I’ll admit I wondered if it would be worth all the effort.

Driving into Camp Del Oro, I felt exhausted, frazzled and still nervous. Welcomed with hot coffee and great conversation around the breakfast table, I connected with old friends and met new ones. In fact, one of the sweetest aspects of the retreat was the unity, friendliness and support between the attendees. I didn’t hear one complaint. Everyone was “all in” and ready for whatever God had in store for us that weekend.

And what a weekend it was! Beautiful facilities, entertaining videos, creative meeting elements and worship songs that sweetly and powerfully drew us into the presence of God. Small group sessions allowed us to hear others’ insights about the teaching and ways to apply those lessons to our own lives. Each afternoon we enjoyed an hour of silence and solitude, quieting ourselves, reflecting on what we’d learned and listening for anything else God wanted to say to us.

But the speakers really made this event shine. Each afternoon we had practical, short presentations (think Salvation Army TED talks) on spiritual disciplines and related topics. The main speakers for the weekend—Diane and Bill Ury, who taught each morning and evening—were not just knowledgeable, but also friendly, engaging, authentic, humorous and humble, presenting truth with grace and wit, challenging us to go deeper with God—to become holy.

Diane Ury directly addressed my struggle with never feeling “good enough” by teaching on the “exchanged life.” I had learned this concept elsewhere—Christ living through us (Galatians 2:20)—but as Diane expanded on it, I felt renewed hope. Holiness isn’t a set of rules, or a checklist demanding completion. We find holiness in Christ. He transforms us into his image; we just need to keep our gaze focused on him and walk through each day obeying the Holy Spirit. 

I’ve been a Christian for many years. I remember giving my life to Jesus at the age of 8, and he has continually drawn me closer, teaching me new things about himself. But as we came to the end of this retreat, I realized that I’ve also spent many years striving over many things, with little to show for all that effort. I sensed God asking me to release these things to him, and instead of striving, to focus on him alone, walking in daily obedience to what he would show me. He challenged me to watch and see what he would do with all that I entrusted to him.

What? No checklists? No long list of rules or demands needing to be perfectly met?  You mean, all I have to do is to trust God to live in and work through me? Now that sounds like something I can commit to!

Kari Brodin is a soldier at the Seattle Temple Corps.

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