Sunday, February 22, 2015

the if: gathering (the second day)...

Our morning started with a trip to the local Starbucks, but let me just tell you, coffee was not needed once we entered the theatre…

Our first speaker for the day was Christine Caine; who needs coffee when you start your day with her? And, we had seats in the very front, I could have grabbed her hand and pulled her off the stage if I wanted to! She introduced herself as the woman who “will talk until the Second Coming”, and we laughed because it was true and because we secretly hoped that she would. She dove right in to Joshua 1, a pivotal, transitional, leadership chapter. Christine stated that the spirit of fear is always inherent to a transition; that we have a choice to follow our fear or follow our faith. BIG THINGS. Then, she gets extremely personal with all 2,000 of us in the room about our past baggage and blessings…

“What is dead in your life that you refuse to let go of? God says it is dead; that painful experience is dead, that season of blessing is dead, He is not blessing it like He was before, there is no grace or oil in it, it is finished!”

She says that we have an unhealthy attachment to our past, we love to rehearse it, both the baggage and the blessing; we are so scared of what will be so we cling to what has been.

“Where have you been paralyzed and crippled by fear?”

“Sweetheart, if the horse is dead, DISMOUNT! He is not the God of “I WAS”, but He is the God of “I AM””.

I am telling you, I think every single woman in that room needed to hear these words. For me, I am not weighed down by baggage, but by blessing. I have never heard someone talk about a good season being a hindrance to walking in the presence, but I really identified with that. There have been absolutely amazing seasons of my life, seasons where God has blessed me with community, with purpose, with adventure and excitement, and I have found that I am clinging to those moments. I must dismount; I must allow them to rest in the goodness of the past.

“Being faithful does not mean we are fearless, but rather we are more full of faith than we are of fear…”

And with that, I decided I needed to let my faith wholly displace my fear, to dismount what is dead and plunge into the abundance He has for me in the right now.

Shauna Niequist and her mother, Lynne Hybels, spoke to women on the treadmill on perfectionism and busyness, how it leads us to be numb, to places where the Enemy may grab a foothold and sink deep the roots of depression, fear, and anxiety.

“Nice girls take care of everyone else, but no themselves…”

“How is your current life violating the pace of your character?”

Months ago, I wrestled with the concept of pace and living and all of its implications on my current life. The Lord has led me to a year of stillness; I was running a treadmill whose pace kept increasing, but not the momentum. Our momentum in life should trump our pace.

We heard from women of various ethnics, races, and backgrounds on diversity and racism; now let me just say, I have NEVER understood the concept of racism. I have never struggled with it, so for me, this round table wasn’t as powerful as it was for other women in the room. I completely enjoyed it, learning more about how other races felt and were perceived, but the real treat was who came next.

Bianca Olthoff, Chief Storyteller of the A21 Campaign (working under Christine Caine), spoke wild truth into our hearts that afternoon. She opened to Joshua 6, and let me tell you, the 2,000 women in the room could barely write down everything she had to say! Her main idea to which she expounded upon was: WHY DON’T WE BELIEVE? She gave us the Baptist three: (1) because we lose vision, (2) because we don’t see change, and (3) because we don’t know when it ends.

“Impossible situations do not intimidate God… He speaks in the past tense to things that have yet to happen! (Joshua 6:2)”

“Just because it is the Promised Land does not mean that we posess it…”

“Just because progress isn’t seen doesn’t mean that your faith is not working…”

“There is a beautiful routine to obedience…”

“Trying harder is not always running faster…”

That closing point hit me like a TON OF BRICKS y’all. Sometimes, trying harder is resting, being obedient to a Sabbath, slowing down, changing the pace. Right now, for me, trying harder is being still.

We closed out the IF: Gathering with an incredible moment of worship, writing our faith steps on stones and placing them before the stage. Here was 2,000 women hearing God move in their hearts, all with different journeys and wounds and next steps to be called to; it was beautiful.

During the last session of worship, I started to uncontrollably weep. I tried to stop, I chalked it up to the estrogen in the room, that I was emotional simply because everyone was emotional (empathy is a blessing and a curse, friends). But then I hit this moment where I couldn’t stop, the Lord told me to keep going, keep weeping, keep letting it all out. I sat there, tears falling, women singing, when I felt in my innermost place, the place where only Jesus has hold of, a stirring.

“Child, I am your Father, rest in My provision and promises; I will take care of you when no one else will…”

He stirred up that place of longing in my heart; I had no idea what was breaking me until He brought it into the light and exposed it. For years, it has been just me; I pay my bills, I make my meals, I take care of myself when I am sick, I bandage my own wounds… There is no one to lean back on, no family, no husband, no one. That created a pace of life that nearly broke me; I did not accept love, I did not accept help, I did not allow for rest and grace. But here is this Jesus, corralling me into this place of stillness, stirring within my heart a truth, saying He has me, He has me.

This weekend was such an incredible place of truth, restoration, stillness, and edification. Now comes the hardest part…

Living in light of all of the things, living like He is taking care of me, living without running faster, living without violating my character, living without crippling fear, living in hope, living in the fullness of who I am because of who He is, living in faith.

Please consider joining us over at IF: Equip for our study of Hebrews!

(If you want to purchase the sessions from
the IF: Gathering in Austin, TX, they are available HERE.)

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