If Gathering: A Reflection

Friday and Saturday, I attended a sort of unusual women’s conference.  May I be brutally honest for a moment? Had I not heard from a few Biblically solid friends how good it was last year, I probably would not have attended.

The Pinterest-y feel of the whole thing when I looked into it did little to engage my rather awkwardly pragmatic little self. Door prizes. Cutesy table decor. Other things of that nature which, in my jacked-up little Spartan mind, are symbols of American privilege and hail the possibility of fluffy, ear-tickling speaking. (And if you’re wondering, no. I did not enter to win the door prizes but used my scrap of paper to fidget with while listening. I am, at least, a consistent oddball).

But I did have those friends… so I went. I am so glad I did. There were a variety of women speakers from several backgrounds, nationalities, skin tones, and life stages, yet they all had one thing in common: Jesus. A passionate love for Him and for His kingdom. Despite my own atypical female outlook, this was a place I belonged. The speaking was not (blessedly!) about feeling good about our Christianity. It was surprisingly challenging, engaging, passionate, and Biblically sound series of teaching sessions. Best of all, it was all about Him.

You see, God in all His attributes is my one true obsession. I love Him so very much.  I love His written Word because He is the Word. I love His Kingdom because He is in it. I love even the painful or difficult things in my life because in them, I have to depend on Him. In times of unrelenting physical pain when I have been tempted more than once to believe He is not really good, He always reminds me that He really is.

However, despite my zeal for Him, lately and with growing distress, I feel I have struggled to love people as much as I ought. I don’t know why this is–perhaps a combination of fatigue, migraine-brain, medication reactions (don’t worry — I’ve quit that one), or just plain old burnout. But whatever the reasons, I cannot allow excuses for my own, critical thoughts. In truth, for some time, I fear I have been struggling with a greater sense of frustration with people than overflowing with compassion for them. 

Yet, I do love people. I truly do. When I prayerfully examine my heart, I find that underneath my frustration is a sort of despair that so few really know my God; that so few really seem to want to know Him. Still, I had allowed sin to twist these feelings and had been struggling with a critical heart for some time.

So days before the If Gathering, I asked God to prepare my heart. I wanted to hear only His voice, to know what He wanted me to do. There were many ways He spoke to me, but the best, the most private and personal yet the one I want to share was this: Near the end, after the last speaker but some minutes before the live stream was over, I was praying when He spoke to me quite clearly, “It’s time to go.”

I wrestled with that for a few moments. There were people I had hoped to check on, people I wanted to speak with or perhaps pray with. So many little possible conversations I hoped to have.

But He made Himself clear, so I slipped out. Sure He had something for me to do, I looked about for someone He wanted me to encounter in the lobby, perhaps, or in the parking lot, but both were deserted.

As I walked, I looked up to see the most spectacular sunset through the branches of some trees. The overall effect of was simply breathtaking. And I knew that was why He had called me out.

After a busy season, He has called me to a time of rest in Him, of pressing in close, finishing the book I have put off; of digging into His Word, even attempting to learn to read it in the original tongue. Time to abide in His love. Time that I, in my fretfulness and worry and wanting to do, have been failing to thoroughly enjoy.

It still seems strange to me that God stepped into the midst of a struggle to bring my heart in line with His own great love and reminded me in a very personal way, “I love you, too, you know.”

I know that it is His great love with which I must love others. What little love I have of my own is feeble; His, though… there are not even words. With this love, mighty love, my Savior’s love coursing through me, oh the people I can embrace!

Thank You, my Lord, for such a wonderful reminder.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
John 15:9


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