Ok, I promised I would write about what I learned over this past BEAUTIFUL weekend. Where to even start?!
This past weekend our church held their first women's weekend retreat. From the first planning meeting, God laid it on my heart to invite all three of my sisters. What? Really? For those of you who don't know, none of my sisters attend church on a regular basis. Two of them don't go to church at all, so to invite them to this kind of thing was a stretch, for me as well as them. So I mustered up some courage and invited all of them. Guess what! They all said they would come! Yay!
Fast forward a couple months...
Now it was Friday and the retreat was about to begin. Well, two sisters made it. One bailed on me. I was a little disappointed, but ok, whatever, that's kind of how she is anyway. As the retreat began and was going along, I found myself somewhat distracted by the attitude of one of my sisters who did come. Eventually, she left early.
Now, I didn't write this to talk about my sisters, but some background information was necessary to tell you what I learned. You see, I went into this retreat so excited that God was going to work in my sister's lives, and that He did, but He also worked in mine in a couple ways I was not expecting.
The first part came when my sister left, mid-retreat. I was devastated. I had tried so hard to get her to stay and now how was God going to change her heart if she didn't stay? Really Barbie, you have God in such a small box? Well, I did. But after the tears, God reminded me that Scripture tells us, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11. She had heard God's Word spoken to her, and it does not go out without accomplishing what God desired for it. Whew! What a relief to know that it did not all rely on me! Who did I think I was anyway? I did what God had for me to do, I invited her to come. God has to be the one to speak to her heart and open her heart up to Him. That part is not my job. But it is encouraging to know that God has it all under control, even when I thought it was going out of control.
Some other parts of this same chapter in Isaiah speak about my weekend, which by the way, is totally awesome, because I read through this book a few months ago and now God was bringing it back to me! Anyway, my other sister stayed. Her attitude was a little better and we had a great time together, but she seemed to be starting to get somewhat of a bad attitude as well regarding the structure of the retreat. And although I had tried to talk to her about some things, it seemed as though she was fighting against anything God may have been trying to do. By Sunday morning, I was a little disappointed. I had thought that God was going to do something great in all of my sisters, and now the weekend was over, and it seemed like nothing had happened. Yes, I already admitted my box was a little small. But just as Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, " 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.' " He was not limited by my plan.
Sunday morning we had a chance to share about what we learned this weekend, and I briefly shared what I wrote above. Once I opened up the box...
The Lord showed me the mighty works He can do!
A little later, my sister, who had stayed the whole time, stood up and shared that she wanted what I had, what our parents had. And asked that we pray for her. So at the end of the service, she came up to pray with one of the ladies and I got up to hug her. As I held her and prayed for her, all of the women who had come on the retreat surrounded us praying for her as well! When the crowed went away, I took her aside and talked to her. She said she had accepted Christ as her Saviour when she was a teenager, but had not lived as though He was Lord of her life, but that she wanted Him to have control now. So right then and there we prayed together and she re-committed her life to Christ!! For those of you who do not know what that means: It means that even though she had already accepted Christ as her Saviour years ago, she is now "vowing to let God lead her through prayer and His Word rather than doing life her own way" as my pastor says it.
So not only does Isaiah 55:11 apply again here, but look at verse 12: "For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hill will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Go ahead sing it if you know the song.)
Let me tell you, both my sister and I went out from church that morning with joy and were led forth with peace; her - peace that she does not have to have it all together, but can trust God over her life; me - peace that God is holding my sister in His hands and we will be sisters for eternity! And I know God's creation was singing praises to God over her that morning, as well as over all of us who know Christ.
Oh how I love when God speaks!