Sunday, April 15, 2012
This weekend I joined 12 other ladies from my church for our annual district ladies retreat in Asheville, NC. The weather was gorgeous. We could not have had more beautiful days. When we got there we got settled and did a little walking around in downtown Black Mountain. It is the quaintest little town and such great restaurants. When we got back to the retreat center my friend Kelley and i went downstairs to get everyones' name tags and itinerary. We had to cut through a conference room that connects two hallways. The doors were closed because another ladies group was in there practicing their praise and worship music. At first I told Kelley we shouldn't go inside since the door was closed but the sounds coming from there were fabulous. We crept in and sat in some seats by the door. We were blown away. These ladies could sing!!! We spoke with a few there and told them we just couldn't resist listening to these singers. They were the kindest women. So welcoming and so gracious. They asked us to come to their services and we both looked at each other like, "should we?? could we??" We told her we would think about it. As the day progressed we decided that we would just slip into their service to listen to that group of ladies sing and then slip back into ours. There was a 30 minute start time difference so we were not really missing anything. Now normally, I am not that kind of church girl. I follow the rules and I go with who I come with and I stay with them until the end. But I felt such a draw to these women. When we got to ours we slipped out and took another friend with us. When we got inside their room to say that we were guilt ridden is minor. I felt terrible but I stayed anyway. The music was just beautiful. So worshipful. Then a sweet lady gave a short testimony on fear. How she had been paralyzed by fear concerning some things in her life. I so understood her. I never thought of myself being fearful until the last couple of years. I have been in such a grip of fears it is unreal. Irrational ones. Fears that make no sense but keep me captive. Strongholds. This was just what I needed to hear Friday. When we slipped back into our service I was just so distracted and my a.d.d. kicked into overdrive. Afterwards Kelley, Sandra and I talked with our other dear friend, Angie about our little slip in - slip out adventure. I told my friends that I was going to go back to those services on Saturday. What that sweet woman spoke on with her fears was just what I needed. We decided we would all go back on Saturday night. We did and it was so wonderful. I never wanted to leave and neither did the others. This group was from a Church of God denomination and they get a little charismatic. But worship styles differ all around and I was not bothered at all. I have been know to raise my hands in worship and so have my friends. I cry in church all the time. Not loud or anything but I am often moved by God to tears...either joy, conviction or from just pure praise. But these women had it going on!! The worship music was some of the most powerful worship I have ever been a part of. Pure Praise. The message was on believing God's promises. It was centered on the life of Joseph and all the trials he went through even though he knew God had promised him great things through his prophetic dreams. We were to jot down any common things we shared with Joseph. I wrote: discouragement, life made difficult by others, being prepared through unusual training ground, believing for others but not for myself, what tempts me, and a few more. The speaker then said one of the most profound statements I have ever heard. "What God designs that I may consider an imprisonment is really an enlargement." When I think I am pressed down and confined by God, He is really preparing me for something bigger, better and much more than I can imagine. God only reveals His promises to us....not the the trials that get us to them. When the speaking was over and they sang again many women went forward to place their cards in a container as if laying them at the feet of God. Many women prayed over the ones going forward. It was just precious to watch. The prayer team gave the women a necklace that came forward that had a few stones on it and a small gold oval that was inscribed with the word "believe". This was to be a reminder for them to believe God for His promises. They will be fulfilled. None of us four went forward because we felt so blessed and honored to just be there and to just worship. One of the pastor's wives came up to us and said that she knew we didn't feel we should go forward but that God loved us and then she gave us each a necklace. It was one of the most precious gifts I have ever received. I don't want to ever be the same woman again. I want to live as if I believe. To really live it. Sunday morning we went back with our own ladies and it was so good. We opened up with my favorite song ever. "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing." And that was like a hug from God to me that just said, "Believe, my child...just Believe."