Scripture reading: John 4:13-14, Ephesians 3:10, Colossians 2:10
I was blessed to attend the retreat last weekend. This was my second retreat with our Soul Sisters.
Last year our theme was "My soul thirsts for God" and we discussed the living water of the holy spirit. I studied this quite a bit over the year and specifically came back to the Samaritan woman at the well. Being a bit boy crazy in my youth and after my divorce, I related to her probably more than I wanted to at first. But as I came to see that Jesus loved her just as He loved everyone else, I started to feel the scales come off my own eyes. I have made mistakes, a lot of them, but now I love imagining being at the well with Him, knowing He would be just as loving and kind with me. We are told in Colossians 2:10 that we are made whole in Christ. Isn't that amazing! Isn't He amazing!
This year our theme was " Be the Light!" Chris Baxter in her opening session talked about how Darkness slithered into the garden, but God's light never left the presence of man. Amy Rogers talked about Jesus... The fact that Jesus came in the flesh to "Tabernacle" among us so we would know what we didn't know... I love it because Jesus was here! In the flesh! There is so much power in believing. My God will work it out because I believe He will. And then Missy followed that up with an incredible session. Even though I am trying not to carry around my shame, it seems that I keep picking it up. As Missy pointed out, God gives us His light to shine and being covered in my shame is like putting a bowl over a flashlight. You can't see the light anymore... Ladies, it's time to remove the bowl! I actually wrote a note to myself in my notes, "HOW DARE YOU COVER UP GOD'S LIGHT WITH SOMETHING THAT ISN'T FROM HIM!" That shame isn't coming from God... it's the enemy talking!
We finished up that session answering very personal questions anonymously on a sheet of paper. Girls, I had to step outside to answer them.... like seriously, my shame was so bad that I couldn't answer the questions in the same room... hello!!! I need to remove the shame BIG TIME!! Once we handed them in, we got another sister's paper. Standing in solidarity with sisters who were struggling with things that I cannot even imagine hit home deep. Here in a room full of women who took a weekend off of their busy lives to study the Lord and be with like-minded people, there were sinners... women with shame... women going through things, BIG things...There are people all over the world like us who are struggling... and scarier than that, there are people right next to us struggling with deep issues. Imagine if your neighbor, your child's teacher, or your bank teller filled out that sheet. What would their answers be? It makes me think that adding $5 extra to that tip or buying a gift card for that teacher for Christmas could really make a difference. Or just grabbing the door for someone. Saying hi and asking about someone's day and meaning it... Those things could change someone. What if we prayed more with people?
Yes, we are running this race. And like Andrea told us, sometimes we are just going to be sitting on the track because we are in a bad season, but we need to lift each other up. It's hard because somedays, I get frustrated and say something I shouldn't say, or maybe I say a lot of things I shouldn't say, but remembering that being the light means lifting people up and being the light is what I pray I can do for others. I know that there are days when I am going to be sitting on that track, unable to move forward. But I know that my sisters are going to be there to pray me though it. God doesn't leave us in our struggles. He surrounds us with His light... and how blessed am I that you ladies are that light when I need it! Even if I stop running the race for a bit, I am still on the track... I love that!
I am so thankful for the leadership team and all of our sisters. If you have never been to this retreat, you have to go. There is no excuse. My son's birthday was on Sunday. But I still didn't miss it. I missed the most exciting football game he's ever played in Friday, but I have no regrets. I was where I was supposed to be. God still allowed me to facetime the last 5 minutes of the game with my mom. Don't let things get in the way of what God wants for you.
Thank you! I cannot thank you enough for the sweet time that you provided for my soul sisters and I to learn and laugh at the retreat. Lord, you opened the doors to new friendships and hopefully new opportunities for all of our sisters. Thank you for our leadership team and for all of the women who stepped away for the busyness of life for a couple of days to spend strengthening our relationships with you. Let us remember that feeling and use our light to help those around us see you. There are way too many people who don't know you, Father. Remind us to share you with those around us. Teach us to love others the way you first loved us. The light you share with us does lead our paths, but let us share the light to help others who are lost.
Lord, help us to break free of the strongholds and
bondage. Remind us that we are your handiwork and destined to do good works. 1 Peter 4:10 says As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
In Jesus's name,