I recently attended a women’s retreat where the theme was “Getting unboxed- Moving on with God”. It was based on Genesis 12 where the Lord told Abraham to “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” and the scripture revealed Abraham’s struggles as he had disobeyed by bringing along his nephew and getting waylaid on his journey to where God had to remind him again to keep moving. The leaders asked us what in our life had us now “boxed in”, keeping us back from our walk with God. Also to discover where have we disobeyed or gotten waylaid?
It was sooo uplifting to see so many young women, several with babes in arms, speaking their faith. And there were many like me, now with our children grown, who were looking for our next step in our faith walk. The mentoring was tremendous as each of us listened to the testimonies of the Christian women ahead of us for insights into future struggles and joys, as well being sooo uplifted by the younger women’s testing and faith. The message of surrender and that “God uses everything” kept coming through. It became clear that an obstacle that many of us shared was the fear of being “broken” again.
I often ponder the meaning of “to be like Christ”. Laying down my life and taking up His cross. I understand this means to love and forgive. And to not seek the pleasures of this world, but to recieve the joy of being a servant to my fellow man as my master teaches. But something about taking up the cross.. Christ’s sacrifice. What pain am I willing to suffer? I know I have trials in my life that purify me in His fire. To shape me, refine me more into the likeness of Christ. And like all there, I have had many seasons of deep loss or pain that have changed me and revealed my great God more clearly. But was there more? Other purposes to being “broken”?
We learn in our walk that God does truly “use everything”. We find that our trials or training will come back years later to help us serve. Every thing is clearer in hindsight as we are amazed at our Lord’s infinite plan and wisdom. But then one young woman speaker’s point reverberated in our ears- Do we see God as a giver or a taker? In our trials, we had lost and hurt.. but indeed we do find that we have gained. Do we fully realize God is good in all? Were we willing to lose again.. to be broken again? Do we trust our God that it will be ok.. not only ok, but that it will become a joy & praise?
The last night as we sang in praise, the lyrics on the overhead hit me like a thunderbolt. I immediately turned and wrote them down- “I know I’m filled to be emptied again.. the seed I’ve received, I will sow” (Desert Song by Hillsong below). Was this the further insight I need to “move on”? I’m filled to be emptied again? The image of Christ washing the disciple’s feet focused in my mind. What does this truly mean? As I struggled to tie all the messages of this retreat together, I went to the retreat prayer room to join the others to be in quiet communion with our Lord.
Only a woman who has been raped can truly speak to those suffering the same. Only a woman who has lost a child can truly comfort another who is there. Those of us who have suffered the same tragedies are best equipped to share our faith and walk with those now hurting and lost. We know what an impact our experiences and support have. We see how God takes these tragedies and uses them powerfully in our lives and others. God does truly use “everything”. And God is good! Whatever life throws at us and we accept in His glory, God restores and returns tenfold. Yes God is a giver.
So how do I “move on”? How can I be more like Christ? What is my next step? Where have I gotten waylaid? Is it the fear of being broken again? I know this is true… but I also KNOW my God is a “giver”. Whatever may come, it will refine me and equip me to serve in ways I cannot imagine. That for every ounce of suffering, there will be pounds of joy. My God is good and He loves me. In my weakness, He is strong. In each trial, His love and faithfulness are revealed.. not only to me, but through His glory, to those He brings me to serve.
So is this the true test of servant-hood? and of my faith walk to be like Christ? To surrender to be broken again that I may serve more? That song- “I know I’m filled to be emptied again..”. Do I understand I must be emptied again to receive more seed to sow? Am I willing? My prayer is that God will increase our faith that we can joyfully surrender to take up the cross to be more like Jesus. That we, in complete faith and trust in our God, truly ask for the “privilege” to be broken again.. that we may have more of His seed to sow. Amen.
by Deborah Cassell ~ On Google