I still lack the words to captivate the 72 hours I was able to spend this past weekend setting the world...setting, my life aside and entering the presence of my God, a community of Godly women, and a time just to be still. It's like describing the beauty of the sun setting over the ocean. I can describe in vivid detail the hues that paint the sky, or the soothing sound of the ocean's waves crashing upon the shore. But honestly, we all know whatever image I would be able to create, it could never compare to physically standing on the sandy beach with the cool grains of sand between your toes and experiencing the masterpiece first hand. So, before I begin to even try to articulate my weekend, read Psalm 46:10. Find the time to quiet you heart, to be still your mind and enter the presence of a God who is wooing you and longs to have your undivided attention. Because it is there, in the still quietness, that He speaks to your heart. And then you will be able to understand my experience.
For those of you who may not know me well, I tend to be a planner. I try to map out all the details of life, and to cover all bases. OK, to put it truthfully, I struggle with being a control freak. Weeks before it was time to pack up the suit case and head to Blackstone, VA, I was ready. I had my plan. God and I were going to map out the next 5 years of my life. Where I would live? What my relationship status would be? Out of the ministries I am passionate about, which one would I pour my life into? Whether I would stay with my current church family or pursue other opportunities? And where in my company would I find myself?
I don't doubt that He was smiling the whole time I was thinking up this plan, because the week before I left, I realized that was not His.
The realization started when I heard a message from Elevation church on Psalm 23 "The Lord is my Shepherd..." reminding me that God was the leader and I was the sheep . . . the one who followed. Then in my personal reading it was Mother Teresa's words that hit me in the gut when she told a fellow pilgrim that she would not pray for clarity when he asked, instead she would pray for trust. "I have never had clarity; what I always had is trust."
A life plan was not what I needed; rather, I needed a weekend to come into the presence of an Almighty God, to be reminded and to gain a deeper understanding of who He is and what He sees in me. I am learning that the more I seek to understand who God is, the more I am able to trust, and to understand His calling over my life.
This weekend was life changing.
Even though the experience was amazing, the fellowship was rich and deep, the worship was authentic, the laughter and smiles were refreshing, the words spoken spoke of conviction and truth, the food was endless, the weather was breath taking, and the women are now and forever knit together by the cords of God's amazing love, it was the presence of God that touched and changed lives, that broke chains and gave an outpouring of everlasting joy.
It was in His presence that I was able to lay down the lies I repeatedly tell myself, and to pick up the new words He speaks over and into my life. It was on my knees before Him that for the first time, in a LONG time, I was able to see me, Melissa Cordle, how He sees me. To grasp an understanding just how deep His love is for me. His love is mind boggling, humbling and the greatest thing I have ever experienced. In a world that is so quick to rob us of His truth, I truly grasped the power of Psalm 46:10.
As I re-enter the normal rhythms of my daily life, I will not forget His prevenient grace. He is constantly wooing me, calling me into His presence. And I will not forget that I get the choice. I choose to either make time to lavish in it, or to not. I choose to live my life by the truths of His unconditional love or by the lies of this world. I choose to let His love change me and the way I view His people, or to be unmoved because I am unwilling to surrender my control and trust. I choose whether I waste this life I've been given by living a prideful and selfish one, or to gain an abundant life by laying it all at His feet and proclaiming, "Not my will be done, but Yours."
You see, I didn't need a 72 hour weekend to experience His love and grace. It's available here, right now, wherever, whenever. I had just forgotten that even though it flows freely, I am the one who has to claim it, to accept it, to take the time and soak in it, and to let it overflow out of my life.
I am forever grateful for the people who saw that I needed to be reminded. Who encouraged me to make that time in my life. I am thankful for the women who helped created a place that was free of distractions, who lived a tangible expression of God's constant love and grace. And I give thanks, euchristo, to a God who pursues me, a Savior who gave His life for me, and the Holy Spirit who is constantly strengthening me to walk a narrow path to a radical life and who quietly reminds me that I deserve to take the time and be still, because it is there where my life is changed.