I rose before the sun last Friday morning, exhausted but with eagerness and expectancy nearly causing my heart to leap right out of my chest. Along with thousands of other women around the globe, I didn’t know much about the specifics that awaited me later that day at the IF: Gathering, but I knew one thing:
God was gathering His daughters together, and I wasn’t about to miss it.
From the first moment that I walked into Austin Music Hall on Friday afternoon, I was immediately met with a fresh wave of God’s presence. He was there. He met with us before we even knew exactly why He had gathered us.
The hours that would follow that first moment could not have been penned, detailed, or orchestrated by man (or woman in this case). Only Jesus could have unleashed the worship, hope, passion, and ultimately freedom that had been building up inside of each one of us for so long.
I sat among strangers at tables illuminated by candlelight. Women meeting for the very first time, many that came alone, most having met just hours before, and still I first-hand witnessed and fully experienced raw, real, authentic community…with strangers. That is the beauty of the body of Christ. Walls came crashing down as we threw off the burdens of fear, doubt, and insecurity, and in their place embraced one another in community. And we didn’t take our time. We dove head first into the deep, uncharted waters of our hearts. And it was beautiful.
Tears were shed, confessions were made, sin and shame were overcome, and freedom and healing were embraced…with strangers, in minutes.
The question that laid the foundation for this entire conference was put before us all again this past weekend:
If God is real, then what?
I don’t doubt that most or even all of us in that room would have shouted with enthusiasm, “Yes! He’s real!” But what we exposed this past weekend was that there has been some fallout between our claim to faith and our lives living it out. The incredibly brave and beautiful ladies that I had the privilege of sharing a table and my heart with wrestled through our personal realities of fear and doubt as we boldly chose to proclaim together,
“If God is real, then I will not dwell in fear any longer.”
“If God is real, then I will by faith step into my calling.”
“If God is real, then I will forgive, just as He has forgiven me.”
“If God is real, then I will not live simply delivered, but I will live free!”
Y’ALL! (Yes, I said “y’all”, and yes, I have chosen to embrace this term as a part of my vocabulary – thank you Austin, Texas.) Y’all, this wasn’t just another conference. This wasn’t just another trendy thing. This wasn’t just another stellar speaker line-up. This wasn’t just another “next thing.”
This was a movement of God’s Spirit among His daughters. This was an unleashing of faith and freedom. This was a revival. I wish each one of you were able to be there, to witness it for yourself. But take my word for it: God is at work. God is doing a new thing in us and through us. We will no longer be silent. We will no longer be afraid.
“We will race brave. We will race unified.” – Jen Hatmaker
“Live like you believe God is real.” – Jennie Allen
“We need a generation who will not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” – Christine Caine
“Jesus isn’t just useful. He is beautiful.” – Ann VosKamp
“Jesus, may we walk in the unforced rhythms of your grace.” – Sarah Bessey
“The church has got to get in the game of the conversations and tensions in our culture.” – Rebekah Lyons
Ultimately, Christ Jesus was worshiped and adored. His Word was taught with authority and without apology. His name was lifted high, on earth as it is in heaven. And I am undone.
Thanks for sharing…I love, If God is real, then what?
Wish I could have attended but great to read your recap and know God is stirring something mighty…
You have done a beautiful job capturing the heart matter! Thank you!!!!
Thank you for sharing your experience and your heart! I love you my friend!
People keep asking me what it was about…. finally I can share this blog and have something verbalized that I just can’t form into sentences. Beauty. Grace. Movement. Soul Changing. God right next to us. Outpouring. Love. That’s how I’ve been describing it, and obviously getting some side eyed “Oooookay”.
Thank you for saying what I can’t, but wish I could.
Beth Trax says
Thank you for so eloquently expressing what IF was. I came away from that weekend changed and so full of spirit and love and peace. I am struggling to keep hold of all of that in my “real life” and your words brought me back to it:) Thank you!