I exhaled as I pulled into the campsite for Key Men’s Invitational (KMI). The reality of spending focused time in a weekend retreat was beginning to wash over me and I was excited to see what God would do. Having come to this conference on and off since college, I was no stranger to it. I welcomed the weekend, like an old friend. And God, like He so often does, met me there in the quiet of reflection.
KMI is unique among conferences that I have attended. It’s focus is on training men in their walk with God and equipping them to pass their lives on to others. The very name of the conference gives you a clue that this is the focus: it’s an invitational. One of my favorite conversation starters for the weekend is “So, who brought you here?” There is ALWAYS a story about how God used or is using some man to influence their walk and brought them along to encourage them. I love spending meal times meeting strangers and hearing about the incredible things God is doing in their life right now. It encourages and challenges me to keep influencing men in their own walk with God.
Part of what creates the comfort of the weekend for me is the consistency of structure to the conference. The day begins with time set aside for coffee and conversations over breakfast. We eventually move to workshops, which are a fire hydrant of information on specific topics of life, and then reflection time in small groups. I don’t know how God does it, but the prayer and reflection time with assigned small groups is nearly always the most encouraging time of a wonderful weekend. We then move to more conversations over lunch before an afternoon of another workshop and small group. Dinner is the buffer before we all meet together in the chapel for music and keynote speakers. The day is finished with more conversations over cookies before bed.
It often takes the removal of the distractions of life for me to hear what God wants to teach me. During a normal week, I find that time driving around in my car gives me the mental space I need to converse with God about my thoughts, feelings, and plans. But nothing compares to spending focused time away from work, schedule, and in retreat. Every year that I have gone to KMI, God has built up my walk through a focus around a central theme. This year was no different.
“Walk with God today” became the focus of my weekend. I had found myself stressing over little things in my day to day life and putting extra pressure of perfectionism. The beauty of this theme for me was that it walked this line of resting in God’s grace but fulfilling my responsibilities. I could relax and trust God with my future; tomorrow would take care of itself if only I would walk with God today (and everyday after). Yet that grace does not give me license to slack in my responsibilities as a man, I still have to do my part to walk with God today.
There are so many great things about the KMI conference. I wish I could tell more about the wisdom I’ve received from men who have walked with God twice as long as I’ve lived or the joy of seeing the fruit of discipleship gathered together for a time. I want to tell more about how God met me there in the midst of personal struggles or poured out immeasurable joy with friends as we worshipped God together. Instead what I can do is give you a glimpse of what KMI means to me and encourage you to walk with God today and trust Him for tomorrow.
Ricky Ketchum serves part time with the Navigators 20s ministry in Oklahoma City. You can contact Ricky at firstname.lastname@example.org