“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
I’m so excited about today’s “Her Story” because there’s a whole new twist to it. Typically, “Her Story” is the faith journey of one and all that God has done in her life since she chose to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Today, I’m going to share with you just a glimpse – one weekend of her story. My dear friend, Ginny, attended the women’s retreat that I spoke at a few weekends ago, and below is her account of all that God did in her own life that weekend as she experienced God’s presence. I was blessed beyond words by what she had to share, and I pray that you are too. A working mother of three, striving to be a godly wife and to raise her kids to love the Lord, her example of faithfulness is one that I pray I demonstrate in my own life one day when I become a mom. To some, she might just seem another ordinary woman…wife, mother, friend, employee, etc. To me, she exemplifies genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and because of her love for the Lord, she is a world changer. She readily and willingly gives of herself to bless others. She is faithfully found on her knees in prayer. She desperately longs to know Christ more and more every day. This is her weekend’s story…
Last weekend I was able to escape into the mountains and spend a precious weekend in the very real presence of our Lord. Some might say that since I had to bring my 4 month old son along that I didn’t really get to escape…and any mother of an infant would be inclined to agree. But the company I was in – 60 godly women seeking to improve their relationship with the Lord and their sisters in Christ – made the time of refreshment and renewal an incredible and filling experience, despite Matthew’s constant need for mommy’s attention.
If anything, he served as a reminder to me how much we truly need our Father’s love, attention, and direction in our lives. How innocent is my baby that he doesn’t ever make a conscious decision to call on me or not call on me in his need; if he needs, he asks. He cries when he is hungry, he cries when he is tired and wants to go to bed or when he needs to be held. How blessed would we be if we could always remember to do the same with our Father in heaven…to ask when we are in need, to call out when we are desperately seeking and to simply never consider trying to do it all on our own?
The theme of the retreat – From Brokenness to Blessing – was a journey that I did not really expect to impact me as it did. For most of my life, I have been insulated from serious hurts and brokenness and it seems that I have allowed myself to forget – or the Lord has graciously removed – the memories of such instances in my past. I went to this retreat just glad to be getting out of the Valley’s heat, glad to be able to support my friend Cherie in person and in prayer as she taught through the weekend, and glad to get to meet her family that was also coming along for the journey.
So I was simply and perfectly overwhelmed when God showed up in such a mighty way. From the second we took off on the drive into the mountains, He was alive and moving – through the songs that we sang and the conversation we shared. At camp, I again and again experienced an overwhelming sense of His presence. I felt Him speaking through Cherie as we went from brokenness to surrender…to trust and faith…to obedience and blessing. I saw His presence in the lives of the women as they shared where they were – and where they have been – in the various steps of their particular journeys. I heard stories of miraculous restoration. Cherie’s passion for women to seek and find the Lord by reading and applying His word was palpable and moved me to highlight many a verse in my Bible. I was excited and my energy renewed and refreshed by the whole experience.
A couple times during the weekend, the retreat leader asked us to be still and quiet and listen to what the Lord had to say to us… to participate in “listening prayer”. Both times that we did this exercise, Matthew was awake and feisty, so I didn’t get to concentrate as much as I would like, but God is faithful to those who earnestly seek Him. Despite the distraction of my son, I was able to clearly hear Him speaking to me about His desire for me to focus on Him, to give Him more of my time and attention. I have allowed my schedule to fill up with so many activities – beyond the “have to do” such as going to work and caring for my family – that I often do not give Him the dedicated time and attention that He deserves. So many women can relate to this, I am sure, but often we think of this time with the Lord as a burden, a requirement, an obligation that we need to meet, without understanding that He wants us to be close to Him so that He can BLESS us! He wants to bless us with His peace, with His wisdom, with His guidance and reassurance, with the rest and restoration that only He can provide. And the journey that Cherie took us on…through brokenness to surrender to trust to faith to obedience and to blessing became, for me a journey to address how and where I spend my time. Do I surrender it to Him? Do I trust Him to make it worth the while when I give it to Him? Do I obey His call to come and dwell with Him even when the rest of life insists on poking holes into any and all minutes I try to dedicate to Him? Do I receive His blessings for doing so, again and again?
I am so thankful to the Lord for helping me find a way to make the time for this retreat. Like a teabag in water, I was steeped in his presence and substantially strengthened instead of quickly dunked a couple times before going my own way, which yields a weak and tasteless drink at best. I am today still thanking Him for the blessing of that time, time well spent with my sisters in Christ and in His presence. As I reflect and praise Him for all He has done, the words of this haunting song “Rock of Ages -When the Day Seems Long” from Sandra McCracken fill me up. Our good God…He is faithful.
Rock of Ages, when the day seems long
From this labor and this heartache, I have come
The skies will wear out, but you remain the same
Rock of Ages, I praise your name
Rock of Ages, you have brought me near
You have poured out your life-blood, your love, your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin.
Rock of ages. Rock of ages.
Bind your children until the kingdom comes.
Rock of ages your will be done
Rock of Ages, when in want or rest,
My desperate need for such a Savior I confess
Pull these idols out from my heart embrace.
Rock of Ages, I need your grace.
Rock of Ages, broken scorned for me.
Who am I that you would die to make me free?
To give me glory, (you) took the death and pain.
Rock of Ages, my Offering.
Rock of Ages, “It is done!” you cried.
The curtain’s torn and I see justice satisfied
Now write your mercy, on my heart and hands.
Rock of ages, in faith I stand.
Rock of Ages, my great hope secure.
Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul
Bind your children with cords of love and grace.
Rock of Ages, we give you praise.