From Lindsey Hughes the Director of Women's ministry.
I remember back in high school, I was pretty serious and an absolute perfectionist about my work and my grades—maybe a little too much! I loved the beginning of the year when every teacher handed out a syllabus, marking out the important dates for tests, projects, quizzes, etc. I would take out multi-colored, felt tip pens and start filling in the dates in my agenda. I would go back and double check, making sure I had the correct dates marked. One of my biggest fears was that I would forget about a test and walk into the classroom completely unprepared. That I wouldn't give a test my all, and therefore the graded test would reflect that. I was never one who got lucky on tests. I am a horrible test taker and I had to prepare endlessly to make good grades.
Preparing our hearts is similar to preparing our minds. We are told to ‘save the date’ for a bible study, a retreat, even Sunday mornings, but many times it is forgotten until we walk into the classroom…or the sanctuary, or the living room. We enter in completely unprepared yet expecting positive results. And many times, when we leave still feeling a little bit empty, we immediately blame the leaders, or the content, or the others there that were distracting us. When the reality is, we failed to prepare. We failed to quiet ourselves, get away from the noise, spend time in prayer and in scripture. Our hearts come hurried, but expecting. Our minds are not even sure what our hearts need because we haven’t taken time to align them. We lose sight of the reason we are there and the fact that we ourselves are tools to be given to others. We aren’t just a bunch of receiving machines.
Instead of showing up on Sunday mornings, or to an event, expecting to receive, what would it look like if we showed up looking for every opportunity to give of ourselves. What would it look like for you to show up to this retreat, being completely content if you receive nothing, but knowing that you may be the tool through which the Lord gives to others there? And the funny thing is, that the times I have been willing to give, I have ended up receiving more than I could have anticipated. When we change our mindset, the focus is taken off of us and put back on bringing God glory and drawing others further into His heart—and we can’t help but be drawn in further when we see the work and the testimony of His sovereignty in those precious lives around us.
Praise Jesus that He doesn't depend on our preparation though—that He can still work despite our failure to prepare. He delights in changing the lives, hearts, and minds of those that least expect to be changed. But that is His grace to us, not a reason to keep showing up unprepared (Romans 6:1). We are called to prepare, knowing that even when we don’t, He can still show up. We have hope to meet Jesus when we least expect it “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
That is the same Holy Spirit who guides us through Scripture and meets us in our prayers, as we dedicate ourselves to preparing our hearts and our minds. The idea of preparation is not a new one. We see Jesus preparing His heart and His mind, before all the major events in His life. He escapes the noise and distraction, “often withdraw(ing) to lonely places and pray(ing)” (Luke 5:16).
Like most beneficial things in life, preparation is a habit that takes both time and discipline. Let’s commit ourselves to each other by preparing for when we come together. Let’s make time (where there doesn't seem to be any) to pray and seek out what the Lord may have for us as sisters. Let’s devote ourselves to give ourselves in friendship to each other, trusting that God knows our own needs and will meet them according to His will. This will look different for everyone but will include much of the same: a quiet place and time to pray and meditate on Scripture.
IF: Equip (http://www.ifequip.com/ ) is a wonderful resource. And if you don’t know where to start, I would love to have a conversation with you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lastly, here are the details for our retreat coming up on February 20-21st. It will be an IN-TOWN retreat.
How do you sign Up? Click Here (Sign up at the table THIS Sunday!)
When? February 20-21
Times? Friday, February 20th, 3:30 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. AND Saturday, February 21st, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. **If you work or school on Friday and can not make it to the early session THAT IS OKAY! We still want you to join us whenever you can!
Food? All meals included