Thoughts Leading up to the Women's Conference
This week, the upcoming women's conference was formally announced at member's night. I sat in amusement as I saw ladies shift in their seats and turn to their friends with puzzled and excited looks. You see, it has been just over four years since our last conference. I remember sitting through the talks being constantly distracted by contractions as my full term baby boy was three days away from making his debut into the world. This conference has been a long time coming. There have been rumblings and talk of a ministry. There has been waiting. More importantly, there has been prayer - I'm not talking about my own, but about the many prayers of many people who have long been praying that God would move in the women of our church.
This conference, to be in the format of a Theological Development Seminar (TDS), is not the launch new women's ministry. It is a day of training. It is a morning of having your heart and mind challenged. It is a morning to gather with the women of the church and open our Bibles to see God's heart for us, our unique createdness, and our common pitfalls. It's a time to worship God and celebrate His salvation and His ongoing work in our lives.
I've had the following verse from "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in my head all week.
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
I know that feeling of being "prone to wander". I can't express how often I've experienced shame for not feeling close to God. That shame has only pushed me farther away and caused me to be judgmental of those who were "feelin' it". Sometimes, I think we do fear not losing salvation, but that we never had it to begin with. We question how our hearts could wander so far from God if they really knew Him. The beauty of that verse is that credit for being bound to God is ascribed to God's goodness - not the author's efforts.
The other day I was talking to Joe, and I told him that I don't feel our hearts are captivated by Jesus as they should be. No matter who we are or what we believe, our hearts are captivated. They are captivated by our families, by materialism, by intellectualism, by the pursuit of lovers, by our own beauty or the beauty we long to have. If we don't actively give our hearts to Jesus, something else will capture them. We forget to pray, "Here’s my heart, O take and seal it!"
For the longest time, I've felt that distance. I've felt inauthentic in my faith. I've been cynical, and finally I've felt like a lost cause. I think the emotional distance I felt was only magnified by my absolutely faulty belief that God was over me - that God had plenty of other little people scurrying around to do his will, and I wasn't needed. I failed to see that this is unabashedly the biggest form of pride of all, as it stems from my own desire for glory. Yes, we can be captive without even seeing it, but give us five minutes alone with our thoughts and certainly we feel it.
I love the following verses about captivity, and my prayer leading up to the conference is this: Bind my heart to you, Lord, captivate my mind, and may all I do be for Your glory. Make me nothing so that I can make You great.
"Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion." Isaiah 52:2
"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." Isaiah 61:1