I spent last weekend at a church retreat for women that was hosted by a sister church in my town. There were over 30 women of all ages there and it was such an amazing time of fellowship as well as a time of amazing messages and some very powerful praise and worship. There was such a wonderful feeling of unity among all the women that were present and it was a time of much needed refreshment for my soul.
It is so easy to get bogged down in the mundane aspects of life and ministry. Being a pastor's wife is the most rewarding and amazing gift that God could have ever bestowed upon me, but it is also spiritually draining and emotionally taxing at times. Those who aren't in the ministry can never fully comprehend that fact, but those of us who live it know that it can be overwhelming at times. But God is so good and He supplies us with strength and with perseverance.
I needed that time away and I needed that time of relaxation and fellowship with other Christian women. It was a time to pour into lives of young women who are searching for their place of ministry in their own life. It was a time to share testimonies of God's goodness and His mercy. And it was a place to share personal problems in a place where there was no condemnation but only support and love.
After a night filled with a precious word from the Lord and some awesome praise and worship in song, the Holy Spirit was just so thick in our midst. Hearts began to be moved to share things that were joyful as well as sorrowful. We went from laughing to crying in the same breath. Souls were being bared with no sense of shame but with a deep cry for release from the bondage that was so tightly constricting them. And as the chains were being loosed on some precious women's hearts, there was a feeling of victory in the room that was shared by all. Women wanting other women to be free! What an amazing feeling.
The Lord was showing me a whole new world of hurt that I never really thought about. I have lived in such a sheltered frame of mind, that I never realized how many women are hurting desperately. I mean really hurting. Like a deep hurt that I can't even fathom. People are going through things that I only thought existed in novels and television movies. There is such pain in the lives of so many and it just breaks my heart. I don't know how I have been so out of touch in some of these areas. It's not that I didn't realize that real people have real problems - real BAD problems at that. It's just that I didn't realize the far reaching nature of these problems in their lives. Hurts that go way back. Hurts that have never healed. Hurts that have managed to cripple and hinder.
As I sat and listened to these precious women sharing things that caused me to ache deeply for them, I whispered softly to my Lord, "oh, sweet Jesus, help me to minister in your name." As I witnessed love and acceptance pouring forth from other women to those that were sharing their wounds and scars, I could sense the Holy Spirit saturating each of us with His love and His mercy and His grace. We were gracing those with the grace that has been shown us over and over again. We were bestowing mercy to others with the same sweet mercy that God dispenses to us daily. We were loving with His love, because of His love.
I silently breathed a prayer of thanks to my Lord for allowing me this glimpse, no matter how painful, into a world that I had failed to realize existed. I promised Him that I would be more aware of these deep seeded hurts that can be present in women's lives. That I would be more sensitive to the pain that can sometimes be etched on the faces of those we come in contact with. I asked Him to give me discernment so I can be available to minister in His name. I want to grace as I have been graced and to love with a love that only comes from Him. I want to show others Jesus in all that I say and do.
"And be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake
hath forgiven you"
"Thank you, Lord, that you have given me the ability to love others with the perfect love that only comes from you. I am overwhelmed at your goodness and am so thankful that you allowed me a glimpse into a world filled with pain and hurt so that I could become more compassionate and more compelled to love. Help me to keep my eyes focused on you and to keep them open to be more aware of the lives of others. May I be filled with a heart that longs to serve and minister in your name."