As we entered into communion at the end of the KHC 2014 Women’s Retreat, Pastor Suzie Lind asked us to ponder the question, “What does it look like to wait confidently in the Lord?” My mind raced back over the past 48 hours as tears of gratitude sprang to my eyes.
I had arrived at the retreat exhausted. When I packed the night before, I realized I didn’t even want to go. My To Do list was too long, too demanding and too uncompleted. I didn’t have time for a retreat.
So every encouragement I heard in the teaching sessions to use my gifting – to be involved with others, to disciple, to reach out – hit the brick wall of my Mighty To Do list and fell flat on the ground. We were asked to think about what negative and sinful attitudes we needed to put off, and what things of the Spirit we could put on instead. I felt like a dog tilting its head to one side and going, “Arooo?” I knew it was all true, but I just couldn’t apply those thoughts to my situation; I was treading water and felt like I was going under for the third time.
By Saturday night, I was sinking into despair. But then, at the evening session, Mena Hughes gave a testimony about her own time of despair many years before at a KHC women’s retreat, and about how she had poured out her heart to the Lord and cried her heart out to a Godly woman who prayed for her.
As soon as the testimony was over I made a bee-line for one of the women waiting up front to pray with us and soon found myself sobbing in her arms while she spoke words of encouragement and strength over me. But when I woke up Sunday morning, while I felt that some tension had been relieved, I still felt despair.
Then it occurred to me that Mena’s testimony had not ended at the point where she broke down crying and asked for prayer. It continued on to the next day when the Lord spoke to her and gave her comforting words that she held on to for the next few years whenever doubts entered her mind. I realized then I could choose to lie there and wallow in my despair, or I could choose to get up, put off the despair and ask the Lord to speak to me about what I could put on instead.
I dressed warmly and went for a walk, enjoying the mist rising from the hot springs and searching out a place to sit and pray. I found myself in the ruins of an old bath house from the original resort, which was built in the early 1900s.
I perched on the edge of a dry well and looked at the brickwork in front of me, asking the Lord to speak to me. There was a series of arches built into the wall, and the part of my brain that I inherited from my engineering father moved immediately to the physics of an arch, and how the stress that pushes down on the arch is transferred by its construction to either side, making it possible to leave an opening in the middle.
“Ah!” I thought. “The Lord is showing me that when I let Him bear the pressure, I can stand freely underneath Him and let him deflect the stress to either side!” But somehow, while it did ring true, it didn’t seem like that was really all of it.
“Sit on the ground,” the Lord said. Well, it wasn’t an audible voice. It was more like an uncontrollable urge to sit on the ground.
“I am NOT sitting on the ground,” I thought, huffily. “I am almost 50 years old.” I sat where I was and snapped a few photos with my phone. The urge to sit on the ground did not go away, however, so I finally decided to put off stubbornness and put on obedience and sit on the ding-dang ground.
When I got down there, I had a whole new perspective. From this vantage point, there was a view THROUGH the arches. All of a sudden I realized that it wasn’t about the construction of the arch–it was the fact that they were windows through a brick wall.
It hit me then that as I allow the Lord to bear the load, to deflect the stress, the point is not that I can then stand there stress-free — it’s that I can pass through that barrier into new things that He has for me on the other side. And that while my Mighty To Do list seemed like a brick wall to me, the Lord was showing me that He had a way through it.
But I still didn’t feel like the Lord was done speaking to me… Part two will be posted on February 28th and you won’t want to miss the LORD’s story that brings glory.