...that I am God.--Psalm 46:10
The whole verse says this:
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Being still is not my forte. In fact, it isn't on my list of "sort of good at". However, God is clear. Be still and know that I am God...and watch what I do.
I will be exalted...
Exalted. Placed above.
When we were doing the house remodel, I felt like I was scrounging for time with God. I was trying to be still, but there was always some decision, some work, some demand. When the remodel frenzy was over (the outside should be painted this week), I prayed a simple prayer: "Lord, help me get still again and hear you. Help me to find focus again. Help me see the bigger picture of Your Kingdom and not the small picture of paint chips, shelf trim, and new dishes."
I prayed that prayer because I realized I had become addicted to the adrenaline rush of "have to". You know what I mean. It's the list as long as your leg reminding you of all the things that have to be done and the push to get them all done TODAY. Either that, or my handy dandy pendulum swung the other direction where I wanted to do nothing because there was so much to do that I couldn't do it all, so I did nothing.
Both are bad. Both get my focus off God and on stuff. Mostly, it gets my focus on me and my abilities. As I said, bad.
For over three weeks now, I have had bronchitis. The first two weeks were unreal. I don't think I've ever been that sick. I don't recall ever feeling like I would pass out from lack of oxygen. I truly felt like I was suffocating, and, yes, that was with the lovely steroid help I was getting. For the last week and a half, my airways have been open, but I am still draining and coughing. Talking is still a highly questionable activity, and I'm more thankful than ever for voicemail. I won't tell you I've enjoyed any of this. Quite the contrary. Had you been here one day last week, you would have heard me cursing this illness, this coughing, the aching muscles, and the whole viral thing to hell along with every demon attached to it and commanding it to stay there, never to visit upon anyone on this earth ever again. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, and God and I have discussed my thoughts on the whole issue.
However, I have to say that the Lord has not allowed the enemy to take my treasure. On the contrary, the Lord has been reminding me just what my treasure is, and I don't think I would have listened--or had the time to ponder it--unless I was too exhausted to make a body indention on the couch.
Last week, Jan Brand, a precious lady from my writing group, and I had a lovely exchange of emails. If you ever get the chance, sit with Jan awhile. Read her writing if you can, but absolutely, sit with her awhile. There is much to glean from her, and even if there isn't a large verbal exchange, you'll get stuff. Hold on to it. Let it simmer, as we say in the South. Check it periodically and see what God has cooked up through what you've learned from her.
She and I talked about a variety of things: writing, family, ministry, Truth seeking. Good stuff. I told her my philosophy on writing, speaking, and photography. I see the bigger picture. Then, she suggested that because I did, maybe I was seeing big enough.
The truth is I had seen that big, but it was so big. Bigger than I could believe for. At least, it was until Jan and I talked. Now, I realize I was right, and I have the faith to follow that path.
Now, you are probably thinking I'm going to leave you hanging with my metaphorical cryptic revelations, like I used to do. I'm not. I'll at least share part of it.
As many of you know, for years the Lord has put women on my heart. I am grieved at the loss of identity and value of women, not among the men, although that is frustrating. What breaks my heart is how very little value women have for themselves and other women. The enemy has done a good job of stealing identities, destinies, and hope. The Lord has given me strategies for restoring that. I believe God is outraged by the imprisonment of His daughters, and He is actively working to set them free.
Imprisonment takes many forms, and I expect over time He'll discuss them all here. For now, know He has not forgotten, and He has not abandoned. On the contrary, He is fighting ardently for every daughter of His that feels the pain of shackles or feels the cold oppression of prison walls. He won't leave you there if don't want to stay. He has given many people strategies, and they are working.
As for me, I have two main strategies I'm considering at this time.
First is a focused prayer group in which women come together and pray for their marriages and children. Satan likes to tell us we are failures as wives and moms, and since the core of our identity is that of nurturer and lover, we are easily immobilized or are easily distracted by means of escape to avoid the areas that hurt us. God doesn't want us to fail, and He doesn't want us to hurt. Instead, He wants to give us strategies to win and be victorious. He wants to kill the family curses and bring blessings on our families. I believe it is His plan to create units of warriors that fight together and keep each other focused on Truth. The question is date and frequency. I'm praying.
Second, I am presently working with several retreat centers to schedule a "semi-silent" retreat. They would last Friday through Sunday. We would come together for meals to talk, process, and pray. Otherwise, the women would be alone with their Bibles and journals and God. The idea being we all need to be still and hear God. We need to be still long enough to get beyond our prayer list and the noise of life to the point where we listen and hear His voice. It isn't just so we get direction and answers to our questions. It is to hear His heart for us and about us. The whole purpose is to be still and hear His heart.
One person asked me about worship. I have no intention of providing any form of worship music. In fact, iPods, CDs, and such are banned. Here's why. I think we should learn to worship the Lord out of our own hearts, with our own passion, in our own creatively intimate way. Sing a song in your head. Make one up, OR better yet, stop and listen to the Lord sing over you.
For too many women hoping God values them, loves them so much that He would serenade them is beyond any idea of possibility.
I guess my heart for these retreats is so simple. I want the women who go on them to have head on collision with God in all His amazing love and passion for them. I want them to be swept off their feet and enraptured by the One who is enraptured by them.
And so, I am working on two retreats a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The retreat centers have not had anyone with this vision before, but when I shared it with them, they became very quiet, and then I heard, "Wow, that sounds amazing."
I think so. I should have the preliminary information organized by the end of the week, and I will send out the information to ladies then. If the Lord brings it to mind, pray for me, the retreat centers, and the ladies who will come.
Those are the smaller pieces of strategy the Lord has given me. As for the bigger picture, I simply want to minister to women and see them healed and equipped. Thankfully, Rob is in agreement, and we'll see what the Lord does with that desire. Just so you know, I expect it to be big.