"I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray
with joy because of your partnership in the
gospel from the first day until now, being
confident of this, that he who began a good
work in you will carry it on to completion until
the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6
For so long I had dreamt of going to a retreat with my hubby. There were so many women's retreats offered to me when I was a young mom, and I snatched up every one of them like a piece of candy. Brian, however, was simply comfortable going on his hunting and fishing outings with his buddies and didn't ever feel like he "needed" a men's retreat of any sort. He had his friends from childhood and a few more that he had collected over the years from work, so he felt that his friend base was complete. Never did I bother him about signing up for the latest "Call of the Wild" retreat, because he was just fine socializing with his choice of men over his own campfire - "thank you very much" ... ;)
Until a few months ago, when a retreat was made available through the worship and teaching series we had been attending once per month a few cities away. Brian had been enjoying the academic focus that this particular series offered and I just knew it could be a timely prompting for his first retreat. It didn't take much convincing for him to agree that it would be something we would both like and that the mountains would be the perfect place to catch a breath of crisp air during his busy season at work.
Isn't it amazing what the Lord has planned for those of us who are just about to get a big eye opener into His intention for us? Specifically, for me. I was completely unaware and so certain that Brian was going to do the learning at this retreat. Just as certain as I was many years ago during one of the first bible studies I dragged him into before he was a Christian. That first bible study, I thought, was supposed to be a foolproof setting, as it was filled with law enforcement couples...and he was a cop...so it had to be perfect, right?! Very far from the truth...but, that is another story altogether.
As you can imagine, it was I who found the deep learning soaking into the very caverns of my soul during this retreat weekend. I was blindsided as all get out, but willingly on time for His appointment for my dry season in life.
The last night of the retreat, the lights dimmed, the worship music lulling the lingering questions from my mind into the air of the Spirit-filled space. Questions of guidance, providence, protection and future plans all wrapped in an exhausted bundle, titled, "What shall I do next, Lord?"
Immediately, the well known fear and almost disgust regarding my unfinished college degree grew to the size of a monster waiting to eat me whole. The cruelty of comparison that I had always fell prey to seemed so very unfair. The lack of that piece of paper served to uncomfortably define me. The lies of the enemy telling me that I had no more to give and that I was at the ceiling of any dream of accomplishment were believable and brutally painful.
I approached the front of the stage as was the call during this worshipful time, placed my hands out for prayer as I had done so many times before. However, this time as I stood there waiting, I felt seemingly invisible. One, two and three prayer warriors passed by me like I had been cloaked and ever forgotten. Lasting only a moment more, for fear I would stand out like a sore thumb, I returned to my seat with the baggage that attempted to confirm my uselessness, and I sat down. The spiritual fight between good and evil occurring in my mind, trying to throw me off course. With my wisdom in tact, I pressed into my own prayer. "What is it, Lord? What am I supposed to be learning here? "
A few minutes passed as the sound of music and multiple hushed prayers continued, and I noticed the woman speaker of the evening standing nearby. With one glance, she welcomed me with her eyes and I walked toward her as she met me half way. I quickly nodded for prayer and she began asking the Spirit to speak life into me. She touched my shoulder and proceeded to whisper, "God sees you, God loves you, you have so much left to give." Oh, this precious sentiment of the moment covered me like a warm blanket.
I let that dwell within me for the evening and into my night of interrupted sleep. I pondered all of the ways that I believe God has equipped me to serve, but have been so confused recently as to which one I should forge ahead into, and wondering if I am just zealously dreaming dreams that are way too big for me. Presently feeling equipped, but am I really called to serve God in big ways? Wanting to be a player in growing God's kingdom, but is it strong enough to pursue a life in ministry? Beautifully considering the speaker's prayer over me that night and sitting in the relief of those words, "you have so much left to give..."
I woke the next morning to a verbiage that was pressing in my mind and through my thoughts, "Linda, people need you to be confident right now..." And again, "Linda, people NEED you to be confident right now."
As I opened my eyes wider and collected my wits, I knew exactly what God was saying, even if "confident" would usually be the last possible word I would use to describe myself on a normal basis. He does believe in me...and if I choose to give my life in service to His people by loving on them with hope, then I really can't go wrong no matter where that would lead me.
So for now, here I go, doing all the things - because, why not?
People need me to be confident right now.
Grace and Peace, Linda
The Ups and Downs of Life...