an anchor for my soul
two weekends ago i attended our church's women's retreat. i wasn't going to go because i was concerned about my ability to sleep somewhere outside my home. and then the whole i'm still nursing thing and my boobs no longer respond to the pump. but a week before i decided i should do some self care and just go. it would be good for me to get to know some of the women from our church better, and it would be nice to have a day off from bina care. i set my expectations low: i was hoping to 1) sleep at least some and 2) enjoy time away from motherhood duties. fortunately, the retreat met and way exceeded my expectations.
the room that was our home base at the retreat site was decorated in the colors of the sea. on the back wall there was an anchor. immediately i thought of katherine and jay wolf's book, hope heals, and the truths that it spoke to me. the anchor is their symbol, a token to remind of the verse hebrews 6:19 "we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure..." it was fitting that the theme of the retreat was hope, and that it echoed the truths that god spoke to me through the wolf's story and the truths in his word that anchored them.
friday evening the session focused on the storms of life: what they are, their purpose, who we are in the midst of them. we read through job and listed his experiences. job couldn't sleep. he felt bitterness. he felt separated from god and like god despised him. he examined himself to see if he did anything wrong to cause his current storm. he felt like god had hidden his face from him. he couldn't see god. he grieved deeply and felt no relief. he felt abandoned and in great despair. he felt broken in spirit and hopeless. he felt trapped and surrounded by darkness. he felt isolated, unloved, alone, abandoned. reading these things made me feel less alone. i felt all of those things when i was going through my season of darkness with anxiety/depression and insomnia. god allowed satan to test job. job's experiences and thoughts didn't mean that he was separated from god and they didn't mean that he didn't love or trust god. there are many characters in the bible the love god and feel and experience these things in the midst of storms. i am not the only one!
the saturday session that spoke most to me addressed where jesus is when we pass through the storm. he is with us! nothing can separate me from him and from his love. going back to job, we read that just because we can't see god doesn't mean he's not there. sometimes we don't see him through our storms. maybe god is being quiet. sometimes we just have to wait because he's not saying anything. sometimes we've moved away from him. whatever the case, our storms are managed by god. god is silent for most of job, and then he reveals himself to job in chapter 38 and following. when he does speak, he's saying "listen dude, don't you know who i am?" chapters 38-39 are basically god reminding job just how big and powerful he is (and in doing so, how powerless job is). in the end job confesses that he knows god can do all things and that no purpose of his can be thwarted. our hope is in god. whether he speaks or is silent. whether we feel him or not. whether we live in abundance or scarcity. our hope is anchored in the faithfulness of god. i am not the one in control, god is. i am not the powerful one, god is. and i find my strength in him.
i was encouraged by the revelation that sometimes god IS quiet. sometimes we cry out and it seems he is not there and he doesn't hear or answer. but that doesn't mean he is not there or that he is not listening. he is ALWAYS with us and always hears us. through the retreat i felt god speaking to me that i have never been alone. he never left me on my own. he made me for a purpose just the way i am. he loves me. he is my friend, my savior, my provider. i hope in him. i remember singing the song "never once" by matt redman at church when we attended the austin stone. that song came back to me. i've included an excerpt below.
standing on this mountaintop
looking just how far we've come
knowing that for every step
you were with us
kneeling on this battle ground
seeing just how much you've done
knowing every victory
was your power in us
scars and struggles on the way
but with joy our hearts can say
yes, our hearts can say
never once did we ever walk alone
never once did you leave us on our own
you are faithful, god, you are faithful
never once did i ever walk alone. never once did god leave me on my own. he is faithful. and he has shown his faithfulness every single step of the way. he showed me his faithfulness again at the retreat. i'm constantly insecure. i'm not a fan of big groups and prefer small group or one on one settings. a women's retreat is kind of scary to me. meal times. trying to find a place to sit and not be awkward. putting myself out there. risking looking stupid. but god was with me. i overcame my insecurity and he blessed me with sweet time with a number of ladies during the retreat. he affirmed his faithfulness in my conversations with them. he used my struggles to encourage. he gave me much needed rest and restoration.
now i need to continually take my heart and mind captive. fight lies with the truth of god's word. fill myself with life giving truth with jesus as my rock, my foundation. in the midst of adversity, i have hope in him. trials will come, that is one thing we know for sure. it's not a matter of if, it's when. and in those trials we share in the sufferings of christ knowing that through his suffering he gave us victory over death and the grave and true life in him, life that we will enjoy with him for all of eternity when we are united with him in heaven.
and so now. i press on! i am seeking ways for god to use me just the way i am. i want to do my part in his plan. recently i've been burdened for racial reconciliation. i prayed for god to connect me with a person and/or organization to pursue this. i asked for others to join me in prayer for this. and not even a week later, god answered that prayer! i got both a person and an organization and i am excited to see what god has in store. of course, last week bina got a stomach bug and then i got it several days later. so we were down for the count last week. but that's life. it's a new week. barf free. thank god.
in other news, i'm loving fall. david mentioned this past week that we still don't know why leaves change colors. maybe we'll figure it all out, maybe not. i'm pretty sure it has something to do with god creating things just because they're beautiful and show his glory. it's fall, ya'll. praise the lord.
and for good measure, here is a photo of my angry squirrel. "does this mean you want the dogs to EAT ME?!?!"