Ever asked that question? For some time now as I prepared to be a part of a women’s retreat, I wondered in my spirit if I was hearing God right. He had been spurring something on in my mind, in my heart, in certain people He was placing in my path, that I was to do something very specific that would be extremely difficult at this retreat. And as is usual for me when this happens, I commit to pray about it and wonder later if I heard that right. Even questioning was that really you God?
As I prepared to leave for the Esther Experience 2011 Retreat this past Thursday morning, where I was to be 1 of 4 facilitators, I not only was still questioning whether I should do what I felt He may be asking, but was assaulting Him with all sorts of questions and reasons why this may be a bad idea!
As long as I have known Him and as long as I have loved Him, is exactly as long as I have doubted Him. My weakness, that I know gives Him a stage by which to display His glory and power, still pulls me back and I resist at times His promises to fill my mouth with His words, and to be my strength and shield.
Day one of our arrival at Ridgecrest Conference Center in NC was no different.
As my friends and I made our way there, as we ate lunch, as we drove chatting and sharing thoughts about life, family, the upcoming event and more, the swirling thoughts and feelings of what I thought He was asking me to do were never far at bay even though I kept trying to shelf them. You know, kind of like trying to nail pieces of Jell-o to a wall… they just wouldn't stay put.
We arrived to a peaceful serene setting. As we checked in my heart and mind were buzzing a bit even though I did feel something change. He was here - just like He said He would be - waiting on me, waiting on the women coming the next day. The excitement was growing but so was that tinge of doubt.
See, I had been feeling for a few days now that God may be asking me to share something deeply personal at a very specific time in a very specific session. He was asking of me what I felt like may be the impossible right now. If I did this, if I did what He was asking me to do, it would be one of the hardest things I had ever done. It would mean revealing ‘me’ in such a raw way and being as real as I had ever been with anyone – and myself.
Well, ‘a few days’ isn’t exactly true.
The first moment that Pat Wade had met with me months earlier to ask me to be a facilitator and explain the outline of the weekend and the breakout sessions as she was envisioning them, I felt the first pin prick in my heart and the first "Jesus Spirit Bumps" run up my arms and legs. My Granny Reva used to say when you got those that a rabbit had just run over your grave - never understood that, but I sure loved my crazy fun Granny Reva :) The first evening we and the rest of the volunteers arrived at Ridgecrest to begin to set things up, to pray, go over the schedule, address any changes or immediate questions, and otherwise get ready for the 80 women coming the next day night there was commissioning service planned. As we gathered in one of the rooms Pat welcomed us, went over some vital things we all needed to know, and preceded to share that the prayer team would be coming around to lay hands on us and pray for us each one in a few moments and asked us to move our chairs into a big circle.
I had been told about Brenda. I had never been prayed for by Brenda in person, or even really ever talked with her. But I knew that she was a woman who many had told me had a specific gift in her communion with the Holy Spirit when it came to prayer. As we began I was aware of movement of the prayer team around the big circle as they went from woman to woman interceding on their behalf asking God for our encouragement, strength in the physical and spiritual realm, peace, wisdom, knowledge, and in all areas we would need to serve over the next few days.
I was praying myself for what I would be doing as my way of serving as a facilitator of the breakout sessions, for my small group leaders on my team, for Pat, the worship team, the drama team, the polka dot team, and for those coming to meet God there in their need.
I must admit, and as you can by now suspect, my thoughts in the middle of all this did keep somehow returning to me, what I thought God was asking me to do. I mean, here I was and it was about to begin tomorrow. I remember thinking - it will be that session on Saturday before I know it. What would I do? Was He asking me to be open myself up in THAT way? Really God? You want me to speak "it" out loud? I’m to speak this thing in my life? Could I find the strength and confidence to share what may be the very thing that some of these women coming may wish they could say out loud too? Or could offer others desperate to release their own ‘thing’ the strength to do so? And was this one of those moments, those huge moments when we are being tested for obedience to just say yes? These were my exact thoughts on this night. These were my petitions of my Father.
As the other ladies on the prayer team sweetly put their hands on my shoulders and prayed for me I received it all and was so unbelievably thankful for the comfort they provided me, the intercession they offered was so precious. Have I mentioned that Brenda prays very differently in these situations too? Just in the movement of her spoken word it can be very unique. She sometimes just utters words in broken sentences. To anyone near she isn’t praying for it may not make much sense at all in fact. Often it does. It’s sometimes also accompanied by what I call sounds and words of the spirit.
She moved to the back of my chair as I sat with head bowed before her. She had actually moved swiftly through the couple of ladies to my right so I thought maybe she would not have a word for me. But as her hands lightly landed on my shoulders they immediately tightened as her throat uttered "Mmmm", "Glory Father". I breathed in deeply. She was lingering at my chair. "Oh Jesus, yes, yes Jesus" she said. Brenda repeated the sound and leaned in close and whispered "Say yes, do it".
Oh my sweet Jesus... In my heart and mind, as they raced faster and faster, I asked God - Are you using this woman to answer the very questions I was just praying??? Is that you God???
Brenda leaned in closer to my ear gripping my shoulders tighter, "Say yes daughter, tell Him you will, you will speak it... say yes daughter, tell Him yes!" Brenda kept repeating it – my mind was spinning. She repeated it again and again.
Oh my stars, oh my word, Oh My God my mind and heart now said – it’s you right here, right now!
With more urgency and a little louder, Brenda's spirit more in tune now and urged to press in, said "He wants you to say yes, be bold, say it out loud, with confidence, He wants you to say it, say yes I will speak it Father!!" I felt her shudder as she got ‘Jesus Bumps’. My heart beat so loudly but all I could muster was a nod of my bowed head... to be this close to Him in a given moment, and hear so intensely from my God was overwhelming! My sweet Jesus was speaking directly to my anxious and worried heart telling me what He desired of me!
Brenda pressed on. I became aware that Kristen, of one of the small group leaders on my right, had now placed her left hand on my right thigh. My friend Kendra on my left was touching me in the same way as they listened to the Holy Spirit speak to me. They were agreeing, supporting what God was asking me to do, with the laying on of their hands urging me to hear this clear and divine truth being spoken in such a reverent moment and urging me in this wordless way to respond in surrender.
The Holy Spirit pressed on as Brenda’s mouth was right next to my ear now. We slightly rocked back and forth as she said louder “say it, answer Him, say yes, say yes I will speak it out loud, say yes out loud, say yes Jesus I will, say I will, all Glory, all Glory, say yes to him, speak it out loud say yes!” I could not deny it, He was there! Right there with me in that room, in my ear, in my spirit, in my soul and heart, in every fiber of everything surrounding me, in the chair I was sitting on, in the air around me entering my lungs as I breathed in and out, in the voice in my ear, and in the hands on my shoulder and legs! He was bidding me to do His will in a way that would bring glory and honor, would allow others to see and hear His voice, His love, He wanted to grow my faith just as I had asked Him to do but it required something from me. It required me to say ‘Yes’ to something that in and of myself I would find impossible, but He was reminding me of just how close He truly is. That in the blood of Christ that I could literally feel flowing on me, His spirit in me, He would provide what I needed to do this thing!
He assured the disciples in John 14 He was leaving that comforter here so we would never be alone – and that same Holy Spirit was still here – all over me and in me! “Yes!” I cried, exhausted from questioning, worn out from resisting, “I will speak it” I said, receiving the peace that immediately rushed in as I cried, “Out loud I will speak it for His Glory!!!”
Did I mention our ordained team name for the Esther Experience (that is a story in itself) was “Jehovah Jireh – Our Great Provider”?! He is here, He is I AM, and His daughters are never alone!
And so The Esther Experience2011 began for me as a revealing of His majesty and power, the likes of which I had never dreamed possible.
Another conference coming up later this summer that you still have time to register for is She Speaks with Proverbs 31 Ministries - a weekend that can help find your passion, fuel your passion, and help you connect to other women who are as passionate about God and His calling on their lives as you are! They even have a contest to win a scholarship to attend!