The first lady to speak at the retreat was a newer Christian woman named Tasha from my church who is full of confidence, energy and sprinkles her words with humor. She shared how the Lord has given her family ten pay cuts since they became believers- something that most people would frown upon and wonder, God what am I doing wrong? Instead though, this family knew that God was preparing them for something different. They knew that God was taking away idols and building better foundations in Him rather than their comforts of this world. Something is coming for them, perhaps in the mission field, but they aren't exactly sure. However, God is bringing them to a point of, Are you willing? It's so awesome to listen to a woman who was so independent in her job, reliant on herself and stuck in her earthly views share the softening of her views and the joining of God's plan for her life. What a testimony! For her, risk for Christ is letting go and letting God.
The next speaker at the retreat was Sarah- a worship leader, married with 3 kids whom she home schools. Ever since she could remember she wanted to adopt a child. When Sarah got married her and her husband looked into adoption several times. Then they had their first biological child. After she was born, they continued to look into adoption. Then they got pregnant with their second child. After the second, it seemed that childbearing for them was easy and naturally forgot about adopting. One day, years later, a guest speaker spoke at the church and he said at some point in his time speaking, I feel the Lord wants to say this to someone or some people here: "Don't let your dreams die. You've let them die, but God wants you to remember them." Right away she remembered her dream- the dream to adopt. By this time they had another child and the husband was not looking to have anymore children. However, over time, God changed his heart. Now Sarah and her husband have applied and are in the process of receiving a child from Ethopia. The joy on this woman's face sharing the love for Jesus through obedience was so encouraging. YES it was scary but her words, "Risk is safe because it's wrapped in God's grace and power." If you take risk for Jesus, it's safe because He's in control. She also mentioned how the orphans in Ethopia or anywhere will be taken care of by God, but God invites us to share in the joy with Him. And of course, the devil hates when we do anything for Jesus, especially when it involves us dying to our comforts of this world- because if we realize that it's joyous, we just might keep taking risks for Him! Satan loves when we are comfortable. He doesn't want us to take a step into the unknown of trusting God completely. But this couple did, and through it already they are being abundantly blessed!
The third and last speaker at the conference was Karen- a woman who came from being a pastor's wife for nine years. She is grandma to a few and loves Jesus much. She spoke on so many great things, but I wanted to highlight a couple. She said, "Before we can live for Christ, we have to die to ourselves." SO TRUE. So many of us, I think, believe we are living for Him, but we haven't really given up ourselves yet. By "ourselves" I mean what Karen listed in her testimony as: "our rights, our agendas, our plans, our time clocks." The time clocks struck a cord in me because lately it seems I am impatient with God's timing of things- even though I know it's perfect. I often think, did we miss something? That is not the case, but rather, God is preparing us perfectly to carry out His business well. Another thing that also caught my attention was that, "When we are convicted, it may not be for that time- it could be for down the road." Sigh. This one is hard for me because I am such a doer. When Jesus speaks to me, I want to jump right on it. Again, lately for me it has been about my writing/speaking career that I feel Him leading me into. Except the key words even of my last sentence were: leading me into. He is not asking me to do it now. He is preparing me now for it, but it doesn't mean I have to start writing a book pronto or hope to speak at the next shindig. To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed in God that I wasn't asked to share at the retreat- I mean c'mon God, I have lots to say! (sarcasm) Honestly, speaking scares me to no end. But because I feel Him leading me into that sort of ministry I thought He missed out on a good opportunity for my practice. WOW- yes I am proud (and working on it). God definitely humbled me at the conference, revealing in me some really dark places that need healing. So it confirmed in my heart that I wasn't ready for that task of speaking yet- because God was still in the preparing stage. What grace He has on all of His children! Being humbled is not fun, but it's necessary. Just Friday I posted Luke 14 where it says in verse 11: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Well I was humbled alright. Being humbled is a great thing. It's not pretty- in fact, ugly doesn't quite cover it. It's humiliating and shameful, but God is rebuilding me. He is tearing down what doesn't belong to Him and He is rebuilding me.
A lady named Beth from our congregation led us in prayer and worship Saturday morning. She shared something that was on her heart concerning the group of ladies there. She shared that we all have potholes and that God intends to fill them- we have high places (like pride and desire for control) and low places (like depression and unforgiveness). God wants the highway to Him smooth and wants to fill those potholes with Him. Later that afternoon, she shared with a larger group on this again but used the word "root". I related better to this in my own struggles. For instance with my pride. Pride is rooted deep in me (as God has been revealing painfully lately) and it has a root. I can get rid of the weed that is on the surface, but unless I get rid of the root of the sin (in my case pride) it will keep "springing up". Unless we get rid of the root, unless we let God kill the root, the weed (or sin) will keep on. I didn't realize I struggled with pride as much as was revealed to me. It saddens my heart that I reflect my King badly through this. Just like a garden, if there are too many weeds, or if the weed is stronger than then flower or plant around, the weed's root will cripple and kill the growth of that plant. The same is true about the gospel. IF WE DON'T KILL THE ROOT OF OUR SIN, IT CAN CRIPPLE THE SHARING OF THE GOSPEL THROUGH US. For instance if I am sharing with you Jesus' love but come off as an arrogant woman who only cares about herself, is that going to benefit the Gospel? Absolutely not. However, and this is what I am praying will be, when we realize our sin, and we choose to repent and kill the root, IT becomes the testimony. Others can see the power of Christ at work in me. My tears soak my cheek as I write this, because this, this my friends is my hearts desire. I love Jesus and I don't want any part of me to get in the way of what He is doing. So being stripped of myself so that He can come rebuild me is very okay with me. Being humbled means my King is exalted. Being humbled also shows my imperfectness and my need for a perfect, loving and gracious King. His name is Jesus.