In my first post of this series, I set the stage about a women’s retreat I attended back in 2014. The focus? Spending personal time with God – being still in His presence. The first session was on “Why am I here?”
After finishing that first session, us gals rejoined in the main lodge, where we were told that the second quiet time was to be on “Repentance.” I again went to find a quiet spot outside. It was there I read the main Scripture which was Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
I immediately started writing another prayer:
Lord, give me the gift of sight so that I may see my sin – I always want to be white and pure as snow. Show me where I’m diseased and weak – cut it out of me! May I run the race You’ve set out before me with endurance (Hebrews 12:1). Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10)! Rescue me – I am Yours.
During this session I had chosen to sit on a bench among the beautiful trees. It was then that I noticed there was a sign nailed to one tree which said:
“Pain. I understand. ~ God.”
I started reflecting on that simple sign and realized how true it was.
Lord, I know that You’ve measured all I’ve gone through on Your shoulders…
I started to think about the word “pain,” and I realized that sometimes (not always), pain can be caused by sin. Roots of sin can include control, fear, anxiety and failure to trust. And then of course there’s envy, jealousy, pride, criticalness, deceit, strife, gossip, arrogance and boasting. Yikes!
Oh, Lord, I struggle so often with many of these things. Help me to see more clearly. Who am I to be critical and judgmental of others when I still can’t keep my own thoughts and actions under control?
Yet then I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 2:14, which tells us that in spite of all our struggles and weaknesses, God still desires to use us, be with us, and work with us to share His love with others!
The Bible’s full of people who messed up:
Think of Peter, who in spite of his boasts that he wouldn’t deny his Lord, he did – three times in fact (Matthew 26:31-74). And he became the rock upon which Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18).
How about King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), who ends up having an affair with Bathsheba and kills her husband (2 Samuel 11)?
And what about the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42)? She was a woman shunned by her whole city, yet God used her to bring many people to saving grace in Him.
Yes, there was surely hope for me – thank you, Lord.
After dinner we were given our third lesson to focus on: “Suffering.”
It was now dark, but still I had to go outside for awhile. I just felt so close to my Father there. I sat for a few minutes looking up at the stars – such a beautiful night!
But it was getting chilly, so I went in the lodge and found a quiet corner to write:
Why, Lord, did You decide to save me? There are so many other people who seem way more worthy of Your love and saving grace than me. Wow, Your love is so much more than we can even imagine. Spirit, set me on fire for You! Everywhere I go may everyone see Your light and Your glory. Great is Thy faithfulness. Restore me, heal me – from the inside out. Lord I surrender to You. I want to know You more.
Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within; like a mighty storm, stir within my soul. Lord have Your way with me. Use me, mold me and shape me. Fine tune me, Lord.
The evening session was coming to a close and I was emotionally exhausted; yet the peace, love and joy within me was beyond belief.
And we still had another half day to go!