Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Pretreat Boosts Spirits: Onward: Thailand!
Worship on Sunday morning, on a patio overlooking a small inlet on Possum Kingdom (yes, that's the name of this Texas lake) raised the bar for experiencing community, group prayer and shared mission. The last day of the "Pretreat" for a Psalm 103 renewal opens with worship (planned by partner Jeanene Reese of Abilene)--at 7:30 a.m. It is the same time and manner in which we open every day at the renewal. However, at the "Pretreat" this worship occurs on Sunday, the first day of the week, and it includes communion, as well as breakfast. What a joy!
We meet at the assigned location (this time on the patio overlooking the lake) for 15 minutes of prayer and song before we retreat to fill our plates and bowls with quiche, fruit, yogurt, muffins, and/or cereals. When we gather once more, we eat, and after a bit, we hear again Psalm 103 and begin to discuss its content theologically. On Sunday last, Arlene Kasselman of Amarillo led this rich and full discussion that mined the depths of our hearts and minds as we considered what it means to be women in covenant with Israel's God (and our own), YHWH. We reflect on the gift of being recipients of His hesed--His steadfast love. Mariana Long of Abilene and Sandy Mitchell of Fort Worth led us in meditations over the bread and wine as we shared communion. Several of us commented as we sat together at table with the Lord. An ease of fellowship and community permeated the air and continues to inspire me even today--so relaxed, so common, so breathtaking.
Then, we prayed. As Jesus had done in the upper room, we prayed for unity...as a team, as a testimony, and as a standard at the June renewal. We prayed for one another. Cara Flanders, a counselor at Abilene Christian had been called away a few minutes earlier to help deal with a campus crisis--we prayed for her, for the students, for the school. We prayed for the women (again)--those we will meet at Thailand, some as old friends, others for the first time. We prayed for them as they prepare their hearts and minds and families for their trip. Right now, women from six countries in Southeast Asia are registered: Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, China, Japan and the Philippines. We prayed for more to come, for the Lord to use us up in his service June 14-18. We thanked him for the gifts he has given, for the weekend we shared, for our families, and for the ministry as a whole. And we prayed it all without a plan, speaking our hearts as we looked each other in the face, seeing each one mirroring the love of the sister on the other side of the table. Most of us had cheeks marked with tears, but regardless of the pain and struggle we might have carried, they were tears of joy and faith.
I love Come before Winter. I remain in awe that we have been called to this privileged place of service, that God provides for us as He does--teaching us how to conduct ourselves, inspiring our programs, sending us women to serve and the finances to serve them, and giving us this bond of community, this tiny model of what He intended. Here I have witnessed what can occur when women commit themselves to listen, to surrender their selfish motives for something bigger than themselves, to turn in their pride and commit to do what they can to make the others (and therefore God) "look good," to trust Him alone, to receive those He sends, and to "go" where He directs.
Hang on, Southeast Asia! We are coming your way--and we love you dearly!