This past Friday evening and through Saturday afternoon I attended the Women's and Girls' Winter Retreat in Rapid City (it always takes place the last weekend of February, and if you're a girl or a woman you are welcome to attend). The speaker is pictured on the left (if you click on the picture you will go to her ranch's website). Robin spoke about the importance of reading and memorizing the Word of God. This is a topic close to my heart for the Word of God is our one offensive weapon we can use at anything the enemy, this world and our flesh throw at us.
When we go to some gathering large or small, often we go expecting to get something specific, like: inspiration from the speaker; a moving experience in the worship. Or if it isn't a Church/retreat thing, and it is for work, maybe we go expecting to learn how to do our jobs better. When we go somewhere we have expectations.
God doesn't really give our expectations any attention because He always has something different in mind when He sends us somewhere. Let me clarify -- we might get what we thought we'd get, but if we do, it is usually packaged a whole lot differently than we pictured it. When we're open to God's Spirit He will shake up our worlds.
What did I get out of the retreat?
First, there was some really good fellowship -- women of all ages shared from their hearts. These personal stories are powerful. That's why we need to share them. When we can connect with each other, when we share our fears or failings or hopes and dreams, we are sharing life. I know this isn't what the speaker thought would touch one of the listener's in her audience, but a short story she told, actually it was just probably two sentences, is what has stuck with me.
Second, when we sang to Jesus, I wept. Embarrassingly I can't say I wept in worship, in raising my hands in adoration. I wept for a situation in my life that breaks (and is breaking) my heart. I thought I had dealt with it, and I had. But God showed me it still has a deeper hold on me than I realized. So I prayed. I also shared in one of our small groups about this struggle. Of course I cried. This is an ongoing situation but I'm at a different place now with it.
Third, I had a nice conversation with my youngest daughter on the way home (almost a 3 hour drive). We've had our struggles (she is a 14 year old girl and I'm a per-menopausal woman). We often butt heads. So having a few good conversations and sharing laughter was really, really good for us.
God has a way of surprising us. Really, if we live for Him we can be delightfully surprised every week, sometimes every day. It definitely isn't boring to have Jesus lead your life. It's refreshing, challenging, peaceful, joyful, sustaining, everlasting. It's the best way to live -- to have Him have the reins of your life. It's exhausting to always try to be in control. It really is. Have you gotten to that place you realize that? You can just rest against Jesus and let Him lead. Ah, that is the best way.
It can be scary to let go of our pride and control, but it's so much better when we do. We're like the monkey who grabs the banana in the jar. He got what he wanted but now he's caught. The only way to get his freedom back is to let go of the banana. The thing he doesn't know is that his caretaker has a bunch of fabulous food for him in another place, but all he wants is that one banana.
We gotta let go of the things we grasp tightly if we want to hold onto Jesus.