It’s been one month since I was blessed with the incredible honor of speaking at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church annual Women’s Retreat. This will be one of my highlights of 2018. I left poured out yet filled to overflowing and from that space…flows this letter.
Dear FOPC women,
You invited me into your world for twenty-four hours. For months before, I dreamt and prayed about what our Father would desire me to prepare for you in the way of a feast. I wrestled through my insecurities and fear of failing you throughout the months preceding the retreat. I’m still learning to believe that our God who calls us is faithful.
Our picture of God really is the most important thing about us, isn’t it?
By the time I was in your presence, I felt free and excited to offer you what the Trinity has poured into me and woven and kneaded into my soul as I’ve learned to dance with them the past twenty-seven years.
We journeyed into the heart of their dance, for which you were designed. I reminded you of their immense delight and joy in you as their beloved, and how they’ll go to the ends of the earth to win your affections, to become your first love.
I sought to create a vision for you of their community of self-blazing love, which has been poured into you richly from the day you walked into their kingdom, hoping to stir your hunger to remain in their dance, pouring their love back into them and into others. The rhythm of this dance is so unnatural to this world, yet natural to you as you remain in His love.
And you began to catch a vision for the dance. And a desire grew in you to dance to the rhythm of their love in their embrace, to keep your gaze fixed in His gaze and behold Him.
I painted a canvas for your imagination about how, “It has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but to suffer for Christ,” (Phil.1:29) and how suffering has the capacity to detach you from second loves and attach you more deeply to your first love.
Some of you are wrestling with this. Some of you embraced it. It was stunning to hear the stirrings within you as you considered that suffering could be part of the dance. When one of you shared, “I have avoided the wilderness all my life. I have avoided suffering. After working through Hosea 2 today, ‘I’m like, bring on the wilderness God!”
I couldn’t resist a loud “Whoop!” over that one. You caught a vision of the love story and the lovesick groom to which you are betrothed, and you would endure whatever it cost to no longer call him master, but to call him your husband. (Hosea 2)
I invited you into embracing mystery and no longer eating from the tree of knowledge—abandoning yourself to the Trinity’s love and care for you. And you caught a vision for how seasons of waiting can be the "fertile emptiness” if you allow the Trinity to carve out your soul rather than fill it with second loves while you wait.
He always promises more of Himself if you make space for Him. He always fills the empty spaces with more of Him.
So many words and phrases shimmered for you throughout the three talks. This brought me the kind of joy which made me want to shout at the top of my lungs. I contained myself and only did that once. We’re just getting to know each other so I thought I should harness my joy a bit so I didn’t overwhelm you.
Thank you for the blessing of journeying with you last weekend. It was a treasure—sacred and holy. Thank you for your authenticity, your offering, your wrestling, your beauty and your love.
Thank you for all of your encouragement and your willingness to share how the Trinity was moving in you to stir your heart more deeply for them. There is nothing that could bring me more pleasure than that.
Here are a few of the concepts which shimmered for you…
“The dance shimmered for me. I’ve never heard that we’re designed to dance with the Trinity. I want to be caught up in that dance.”
“I pursue second things first..I want to pursue God as my first thing and let second things be in second place.”
“I’ve always believed suffering is optional. This is a new paradigm challenging me.”
“Bring on the wilderness!”
After my talk on suffering, a lovely woman shared with me, “I finally understand. After all these years, I see what God has been up to through my marriage. I’m going to go home and hug my husband.” (Hallelujah!)
“I resist mystery and waiting and it terrifies me to relinquish control to God…but I want to.”
Our God led us in quite a party and spread the feast before us. We ate, we drank deeply of His love, and we danced. It was pure pleasure to invite you into His dance. Keep spinning and twirling sister, for you are the bride of a lovesick groom.