The Journey To Christian Resources Together (CRT)
I don’t know how a girl who is terrified of heights loves flying! But I do. From watching the ground disappear beneath me, to plane spotting from thousands of feet in the air, wondering where those metal birds crisscrossing the sky would finish their journeys is so exciting. Not so with a turbo-prop. There’s something unnerving about the sight of black blades cutting the air, rotating like an unstable washing machine in its final spin. Definitely one aircraft I prefer to avoid if possible!
But if I was to arrive at my first CRT Retreat then I had to pocket my apprehension and board the turbo-prop sitting at the gate in Belfast City Airport. But this was one journey I wasn’t taking alone. My friend, and fellow author, Jean Gibson was travelling with me, so when large drops of water dripped on our heads mid-flight we laughed together. “It’s just condensation,” the stewardess quipped. “It’s cold out there,” she continued, pointing through the window beside me. A few rows behind us we could hear the banter of the Faith Mission booksellers, who we had earlier discovered were heading in the same direction as us. Having company on a journey enriches the experience, settles apprehension, expands the joy, and ensures that whatever we encounter there’ll be someone right there with us.
That’s what I love about the Christian life. Yes, it too is a journey… one that starts at the cross through faith in Jesus Christ, but it was never meant to be a solitary experience. In fact, when Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV), He immediately follows it with an invitation to yoke-up (v29) with Him. Wherever life’s journey takes us Jesus wants to do more than accompany us, He offers to attach Himself and walk with us, step by step.
My first year at CRT was special. It was only the second retreat where authors had been included, having previously been open to booksellers, publishers and Christian retailers. A good move, I’d say. After all what would the publishers and booksellers have to offer if folk like me didn’t hide themselves away with their trusty keyboards? The beautiful surroundings at The Hayes Centre, Swanick, combined with comfortable rooms, took second place to the experience of meeting others in the publishing business. I had entered the writing business totally ignorant of how it all worked. At CRT I met authors, editors, publishers, and the lovely people from bookshops in far-away places, some who already sold my books, and others to whom I was able to introduce my writing.
One of CRT’s special components is the opportunity to worship together, as well as to enjoy the ministry of invited Bible teachers and authors. The book business can be a lonely occupation. What a tonic it is to fellowship with like-minded people, and to network with those whose experience and wisdom you’ll not find anywhere else. Add to that the fun, laughter… and the inimitable Steve and Mandy Briars, and you’ll soon forget that it’s actually a working conference!
I make many journeys annually, travelling to speak at a multiplicity of meetings, events and conferences, but CRT is one journey that I prioritise in my diary. It’s too important for me to miss. Too valuable to my writing and development as an author not to set time aside to attend.
That’s also true of life. What is important requires our time and commitment, whatever our busy schedule. My latest book, Journey With Me, encourages us to make the best possible choice each day… to journey with God. Life will take us to many places: some we’d rather not visit, others that cause us to struggle, along with precious moments of joy and fulfillment. A journey begins each time we open our eyes to a new day. We might think we have our schedule mapped out, often with no room for diversions, but truth be told, none of us know what today might bring.
On a daily basis ‘Journey With Me’ develops our relationship with the One who wants to walk with us in the darkness as well as the light, to companion us through sorrow and joy. I’m thrilled that ‘Journey With Me’ will have its official release at CRT this September, and that I have been given the privilege of speaking at the opening session of the conference on: ‘Hope’ – Defining the Future. Make the journey… see you there!