I just arrived in Tampa, Fl after 10 days in Greece, where I served at a conference for women working globally.
I don’t have a compilation of places they all came from, nor the roles they play in their host countries; but, off the top of my head, we had several from Northern Ireland, the UK, France, Israel, Ukraine, Serbia, North Africa, East Africa, South Africa, and Romania.
Just from this list alone, your observations inform that many are carrying the weight of heavy burdens. They arrived, we welcomed them into a safe space for worship, prayer, encouragement through the spoken word, counseling, spiritual direction, and a lot of TLC.
One of the attendees said she felt as if, upon arrival, everyone came “tied up” with much heart ache, but over the course of several days, she sensed the spiritual, emotional, mental, even physical unraveling through the hand of the Lord.
The Lord began a good work and I truly believe each woman left more equipped with tools to allow Him to finish what He began.
I went to speak what the Lord had placed on my heart to share with these gals I consider my “tribe.”
They are green-like-me (to understand what I mean there’s an explanation on a blog here…)
As ALWAYS HAPPENS, I leave challenged in many ways by these gals. So, here is one of the most impactful “thoughts” for me at this retreat. Perhaps it will spur you on, as well, and/or leave you pondering.
With each session, I left the gals with an optional assignment to further investigate Scripture on their own.
The first assignment came in the form of a Visio Divina exercise, where they looked up various verses, studied an image that went along with the basic theme and pondered the answer to a few personal questions to ascertain what God might be speaking to their hearts.
This was the photo:
Here are a couple of the verses:
But, as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge…
The Lord is near to those who are broken-hearted…
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
You, too, can play around with this exercise and answer some of the following questions (the questions are myriad, so ask some of your own, along with these):
- To what are your eyes drawn? Why?
- What message is this picture bringing in general? What message is it bringing to you, specifically?
- What emotions does this picture solicit within you? Why?
- How does the artist use color, shading, brush strokes, etc. to bring out deeper aspects of the image?
- Who are you in this picture? How do you know? Is it who you want to be? Is it who the Lord wants you to be?
- Does the photo bring up anything that expresses a deep desire of your heart?
So, the next morning, one of the gals who lives and serves alongside a ministry team in war-torn Ukraine, shared with me her experience with this assignment.
She followed the directions, didn’t really seem to be “hearing” anything, until she flipped the page over, and saw the question: “Does the photo express a deep desire of your heart?”
To herself she responded, “Yes! I long to be the little girl resting fully, cuddled near to the heart of God.”
As soon as she thought her answer, the still small voice of God spoke into her heart:
Then, when will you stop trying to be the lion?!?
In that one question, the Lord also spoke to me.
I, also, fight waaaay too hard to be the lion…
The King on the throne of my own heart.
The one in control; trying to orchestrate the protection of many who are under my “watch.”
The one manipulating pieces so life is easier, safer, and more secure.
The one attempting to direct the traffic of circumstances.
Busy, busy, busy.
Finding it difficult to simply “be,” and not always having to “do,” on this journey I travel heavenward.
Of course, there are times we must “work” as laborers in the Kingdom.
But, there are times, we need to step to the side, into lush green pastures and by still waters, where the Lord, our Shepherd, can watch over us and restore our souls.
Then, we can step back into the journey with greater fervor and eagerness to see the Kingdom expanded.
With that, I’m reminded of this:
Without rest, we cannot fully risk for Jesus (Mark Buchanan).
That’s worth pondering….