The women's weekend at Sandy Cove proved to be another opportunity to grow closer to God and to the other women in our church. Featured speaker, Dr. Veirdre Jackson, started out the preaching on Friday night with an object lesson to help us see the layers of obstacles that stand in the way of us being close to GOD. We all have "life issues" we are dealing with, and we discussed how those life issues often lead to changes in our behavior and then behaviors inevitably lead to toxic self-talk. Dr. Jackson used the story of the Woman with the Issue of Blood in Mark 5 to give an example of how breakthrough comes when we start changing our inner conversations and decide to go the LORD with our issues. When we have tried and failed to fix ourselves we understand that our hope and faith is in His healing power. But it all starts with what we say to ourselves. We must choose to get close to Him, give it to Him and trust Him.
Saturday morning's message was about how to develop a fearless faith. Dr. Jackson talked about the primary emotions LOVE and FEAR and how every other emotion stems from these two. When life "rocks" us we have the choice to be grounded in love or fear. Dr. Jackson highlighted the woman with the demon-possessed daughter (Matthew 15:22-28) who came to Jesus for her healing as an example of fearless faith. Initially, Jesus told the woman that He couldn't help her, but she wouldn't take NO for an answer. She trusted in who she knew God to be. The most repeated command in the Bible is DO NOT FEAR. We talked about the different ways we commonly respond to fear (Forget Everything And Run, Finding Excuses And Reasons, Failure Expected And Received, and Fake Everything And Repeat). The challenge was the Face Everything And Rise in the face of fear. In addition to being a gifted speaker, Dr. Jackson used brain science to show us how our beliefs control our behavior. Our "homework" was to come up with a Power Plan so that we can prepare for life challenges before they happen. For me personally I renewed my commitment to studying and memorizing God's Word daily and living a life of praise and worship regardless of my circumstances and feelings.
The Saturday night message was about joy and how God brings us joy as a result of worship. Dr. Jackson explained how God has used dance as a way for her to worship Him and to lift her out of some deep depression in her life. The story of the Woman at the Well was used as an example of how we need to be vulnerable with God and with others. When we are honest with others and tell our story that's when shame's power is broken in our lives. We need each other, and the Enemy uses shame to keep us in isolation. Our challenge was to take one step of obedience after another...focus on the what, not the how. God's job is the how, we just need to worry about what to do next.
On Sunday morning, Dr. Jackson discussed transformation, and how we must train in the valley so we are prepared to move higher in our faith. Just like runners must be consistent in their training, our spiritual lives are meant to be lived with consistency as the key to our faith being strong and sustained over time. We read the story of Eljah in I Kings 19 coming off of a mountaintop experience/life victory and then running away and hiding to show how sometimes we want to just quit. He was exhausted, so an angel of God appeared to Him and commanded him first to Eat and then Rest. We discussed self-care and how we sometimes can burn out, even when we are serving God. Our challenge was to find training partners and surround ourselves with a team of like-minded women who are fully committed to developing a strong fearless faith.
The messages were extremely powerful all weekend and I felt confirmed in many things God was already showing me before I arrived (my desire to praise Him at all times, rest in His love, know Scripture, trust God's character, be bold in my faith, and find deeper friendships). One of the highlights of the weekend for me, was identifying two women in my life (one at church and one at work) that are fully committed to the LORD and willing to be vulnerable with me and let me be fully vulnerable with them. God worked as only He can do, literally obliterating the small fears I was holding onto as I was walking out the door of the last session. He is REAL, and He LOVES us so much and He makes Himself evident when we trust and obey. For any women seeking to grow closer to God, I highly recommend attending next year's Women's Weekend. It might just bring the breakthrough you've been looking for.
– Faith Ralph