I love to be invited when women gather. When contemplating how to spend my time I try to think through who will be there and what the talk will be like. I hope to be engaged and challenged in my thinking with meaningful, open and honest conversation; the kind that invites me to think about it the next day. Small talk is nice for a few minutes but an evening of it leaves me empty and uneager to repeat the experience.
Last night I sat in with a new group. I knew some of the women but what connected us was a desire to watch a video from the IF Conference, a gathering of women in Austin Texas a few months ago. This video featured Annie Lobert and Angie Smith. I came to see the video but I really came to discuss it afterwards. I was not disappointed.
Angie and Annie came from very different backgrounds. One was the daughter of a very angry abusive man; the other, the daughter of a very kind and loving man. Both were not attracted to God. The first because the word "Father" brought up anger, abuse and fear. The other had a dad so dear she felt no need for another. But eventually God found them both: one after a drug overdose, the other after hearing a song and realizing her need of Him. One related to Rahab, the other to Sarah, the only women in Hebrews 11's great cloud of witnesses. Each of our stories fit somewhere in between those two very different tales of how God found and liberated them from that which bound them tightly to temporal things. Both testified to the grace that keeps them close to his heart.
After viewing and discussing the video, we were asked, "Who is God to you today?" The answers varied, sweet and knowing. Glowing faces recalled ways God has presented himself:
God defines love for me.
God is sovereign.
I want to be in control, but God has shown me that He is the one in control.
He is my constant companion, my provider and strength.
He is my daddy and in his faithfulness, God is teaching me.
He goes before me and I am finding him to be trustworthy.
He is my provider, my hope and my Father.
This little girl can rest in him.
"What holds you back from complete surrender to Him?" The answers were unassuming and subdued:
the need to understand,
living in the flesh versus living in the Spirit,
self-sufficiency (thinking I can do it myself),
lack of sufficiency(thinking I can not accomplish anything)
trying to figure it out myself,
fear of not doing anything important
We sat still in our common need for God's help; our humanness so fragile that speaking it out solidified the truth. God has worked mightily in each of us and we were brave enough to articulate it to this group of fellow walkers on the journey of faith and belief. I walked out of that room marveling that 13 women who didn't all know each other could come together and experience something deep and wonderful – the marvel of faith in our God. Conversation would have been shallow without him who has revealed himself through the Word and the grace he so freely offers those of us who are on the journey toward him.
I’m planning to go back the next time this group meets. It more than fulfilled my criteria for a good evening of meaningful conversation.