I want so very much to write about the weekend at the Come Away retreat, but how in the world do you even begin to put into words an experience that was so intimate and precious?! I feel a bit like Mary must have felt when Scripture tells us that she treasured up things about her pregnancy and the birth of Christ and pondered them in her heart. And so, I will probably share less rather than more in this space because some things simply need to held closely.
As you know I have been praying into and planning this retreat for a very long time…almost a year. I knew that God was calling me to this work, yet I had so many doubts about whether I was physically and emotionally able to do it. Doubts about my calling to ministry, and whether I could offer anything that would speak into the hearts of other women. I wondered if anyone would come, and if they would be glad they had come when all was said and done. Almost daily I begged God to let the women be glad they came. I was not sure that anyone would pay $300 for a retreat, because Y’ALL, $300 is a lot of money! If there was a doubt to be had about hosting a women’s retreat, I can assure you that it passed through my mind over the course of the past year. The only thing I did not doubt was the sufficiency and willingness of Jesus to make this retreat happen if He had a mind to do it. Of that I was certain.
I had space for 7 ladies. God sent 6 women who walked eagerly through the door of Tippy Canoe, expecting Jesus to meet them there. In fact, one of the things that we consistently laughed over were the words of one woman’s preschooler. For quite sometime, she had been telling her children that she was going away in September to have a weekend with Jesus. On Friday when her husband came home from work to report for ‘Daddy duty’, her little one went running to him and told him that, ‘Mommy is going to meet Jesus!!’. He said, ‘Oh, please don’t say it like that!’ So we laughed all weekend about this sweet woman ‘going to meet Jesus’.
May I just tell you that we all met Jesus this weekend? The Holy Spirit was incredibly present with us, doing the work that only He can do in hearts that are tuned to His frequency. We worshipped, we studied, we prayed, we laughed, we cried, we shared our hearts, we cooked together, and we ate. Of course, we ate!
The focus of the retreat was not only to help the ladies carve out a time to come away with Jesus, but also to understand how deeply loved they are by Jesus, and how safe their hearts are with Jesus. To that end, I taught from several different passages over the course of the weekend….John 8:1-11, Psalm 139, Psalm 51, Romans 12:1-2, and 2 Samuel 9. I wanted them to understand that an intimate relationship with Jesus does not happen by accident. It requires intentionality and work, being diligent to lean into Christ through regular prayer and Bible study. I poured out everything I had, hoping they would catch the fever for a relationship with Jesus.
Satan fought hard to keep the ladies from coming, and to keep me from teaching, but He did not win.
May I share some comments from the women?
Come Away fanned the fire that I knew was still in me, but had been affected by the circumstances of life.
Come Away was a breath of fresh air. I was impacted by the Word of God; encouraged by other women. I am trusting Him in a deeper way and being led to take steps of faith.
Come Away showed me where I need to be with the Lord, and what it is going to take to be close to Him again.
Come Away has given me a ‘booster’ to help me get back to where I need to be. Spending time in the Word is vital!
I feel like I have a fresh love and desire for Jesus because of my time at Come Away.
I feel at peace and know it is well with my soul. I feel Jesus near.
These sweet women made sure I understood that there would be another Come Away retreat next year! They also asked for it to be a three-day retreat rather than just two days.
Over and over the Lord moved and worked this weekend, not only in the hearts of the women, but in my heart as well. He reminded me that His calling is irrevocable and that where He calls, He equips. He encouraged me with the words of Isaiah 55:11, reminding me that when His Word is proclaimed it will accomplish the purposes for which it was intended. He blessed and encouraged me through the words of the ladies as they shared what the weekend had meant to them.
I waved good-bye to each lady on Sunday morning, trusting that God would continue to use the time at Come Away to draw them into a more intimate relationship with Jesus.
Today is a day of rest for me; a time to ponder, pray, offer thanks, and simply abide with Jesus. And do you know what? I feel the smiling nod of God over Come Away and my faithfulness to be obedient to God’s call.
I stand amazed, yet again, that God would use someone like me, a woman who has been in a ditch of sin more times in my life that I can count, to do much of anything in His Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
I am linking to some of the books that I recommended to the ladies this weekend.