Last weekend was our much-looked-forward-to church women’s retreat. I know it was a stressful thing for the committee to plan, (I was on the committee for the last retreat in the Fall of 2009), especially since their speaker backed out about a month before, due to unforeseen circumstances. It became a matter of prayer and God provided. God knew who was supposed to speak to us at retreat and He made sure she was there.
Our retreat was held up at gorgeous Cedar Springs. It was cold, but pretty and all the water was frozen, which we had never seen before on our retreats up there. Very cool to see how the water froze into swirls as the cold northeastern wind must have frozen layer after layer of moving water. Proof of our creative God.
We began on Friday night with a delicious dinner cooked, served, and cleaned up by Cedar Springs. That’s simply one of the best parts of retreat…three meals eaten in the company of good friends with no thought, preparation, cooking, or cleaning involved. We had devotions, singing, crafts, and games to fill the rest of the evening, followed by multiple trips to the snack table, conversation, and laughter until much, much too late…into the wee hours of the morning!
Saturday morning began of course with devotions and a hot breakfast and the first two sessions from our speaker. She spoke about adopting their daughter from China, and shared about how they worked so hard to bond with her when she first came to live with them. She compared that to how God wants to bond with us as his adopted children. The first of two things I appreciated most about those two sessions was the idea that I can offer my day as my gift to God. I’m all about gifts. Truly. In the love languages, gifts are tops to me. And the idea of offering my day, which so often seems so…annoying (driving so much) and mundane (laundry)…as a gift to God was new to me. And thought-provoking. I know I do these things to serve my family, which is how I serve God. But a gift is different than service. A gift is something I love to give to someone I love and someone else loves to get. A gift is something I love to watch the recipient open. A gift is thought about and comes with love attached. A gift is special. Different than service somehow. I felt as though God put the speaker at the retreat just to speak those words to me…since I’m so frustrated with my day-to-day life lately. Looking at it as a gift to my Heavenly Father puts a whole new perspective on things.
The other thing I appreciated about those opening sessions was when she shared about holding her daughter’s face between her hands and putting her forehead up against her daughter’s forehead to try to make eye contact. She just wanted her daughter to look at her. Connect. After a while, there was some eye contact, and gradually more and more until they connected, face to face. Doesn’t our God do that to us as His adopted children? Isn’t that just a great thought to think that He pulls us to look at Him because He just wants to connect with us? We thought about that image as we sang:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Ah, what comfort. What truth.
After lunch and an invigorating, brisk walk in the cold, we came back for two more sessions with our humble and quiet, yet powerful speaker. I had a few things to learn again…God wants to be near to us and to tend to us as a shepherd tends to his flock. I know this in my head. But, in order to be that near to God, we have to give up control. Yep. That’s all. Of course, I know this. But, as any mom, wife, homemaker, etc., etc., etc. will tell you, giving up control is incredibly scary. If we’re not gonna do something ourselves…well…then…uh…there’s really no one else we trust. We’re trying to teach our children how to do things, but honestly, they’re not quite there yet! Anyway, the speaker pointed out that CONTROL is really a PRIDE issue. I had never thought about that before. I never really thought I struggled with pride very much. I see my failures every. single. day. But I do struggle with pride. Because I certainly don’t think anyone else is any better at any of the things I do, obviously, or I could give up control to that person. So…as I’m working to offer my day as a gift to God, I better give Him control of it as well.
The other powerful part of her talk was about dependence on God…hmmm…I think I’m sensing a theme here. Yes, I need to depend more on God. Just as I need to offer up my day, look Him in the face, and give Him control, I need to depend on Him. That He can do it. That He can take care of it. That He can satisfy.
Psalm 42:1 – “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
Oh, how I want that verse to be true in my life. Every. Single. Day.
Pictures from our true retreat can be found HERE!