The FAQs of Life Seminar was a large charge, spiritually, for me. That was due to several things, not the least of which was the study motivation it provided for me. The Spirit is so good to have given us a written life manual that is perfect for every situation of every woman’s life, even when we are so far removed in time from its original transmission. But sometimes I just need study deadlines and FAQS provided that for me. Another blessing that I can’t take for granted is fellowship. There were nine of us at my house for the weekend and a big sister support group was there for each of our sessions. I’m convinced that even if we didn’t have an organized time of study, the fellowship would be worth the effort of our getting together. Family Bible time at my house was an event in itself! But the best thing I brought home from the weekend is a prayer list.
On Friday night we spent time talking to each other and to our Father about the evangelism challenges that are in our lives. In the context of Matthew 28:19, 20, we included both those that we are trying to reach for the first time with the gospel and those we are trying to restore to a state of faithfulness to our Lord; a state that they once enjoyed. Every time I do this it’s, ironically, both disturbing and comforting. Sisters are not hesitant to share.
We heard from a young woman whose boyfriend is now visiting the worship services with her. We heard from a young mom who has a new study set up with a married woman who is insistent that the studies not be conducted in the presence of her husband. We heard from a woman who has recently been reunited with a young niece, who was adopted out of the family in her infancy just after her birth mother’s death. Of course, this Christian woman would love to have the chance to reach her deceased sister’s daughter for the Lord. We heard from a woman who has led a co-worker to the Lord in recent weeks, but the co-worker is struggling in significant ways. A middle-aged woman told us about her brother, with whom she’d had little contact for most of her adult years. They’ve now been brought back together around the care of a sick parent and the door for dialogue about the Lord is slowly opening. All of these women were passionate in seeking advice and, most of all, in verbalizing strong desires for the prayers of their sisters. It was humbling to me, as I marveled at the blessing of family that we have in Jesus.
But there were others: a woman whose children are now involved in a false religion after having been rehabilitated from drug abuse by good people in this denomination…a woman whose children are entrenched in the ways of the devil to such extremes that she is fearful for her grandchildren to be in their company…a woman who is grasping for ideas to bring the gospel anew to her lost son, who is overseas on an island military post…a woman reaching out for prayers for her husband of thirty-one years who has never obeyed the gospel and for her adult daughter, who is spiritually destitute, and for herself as she struggles to raise a young grandson, a sweet little four-year-old man that I was blessed to meet…a woman who asked us to remember her son, who just slowly, but surely, left the Lord completely. All of these and more. The prayer list could have been a list written in the first century or in any century between then and now. It was just the litany of the tragic aftermath of the devil’s work in our lives; the same work he has been doing since the garden. And the message that motivates us to keep trying…to keep praying…is the same one, too:
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. For I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Each story was very real. Every woman in the room could relate in varying degrees to the challenges of our sisters. And our prayer together made me so thankful for the perfect Father and the older Brother who facilitated our adoption into this wonderful eternal family.
The sentiment I kept hearing afterwards was expressed in words like “Why don’t we do this more often?” and “I am so glad I came. I really needed this.”
The best thing I brought home with me was a list–a list that included names of brothers and sons, daughters and husbands, coworkers and sisters, boyfriends and daughter-in-laws–a list I intend to talk to God about. As one woman said, “I had gone years without praying for my brother. I thought he was a lost cause. But when I began to pray, opportunities began to open up.” I intend to pray for the very things we discussed that may facilitate obedience and restoration: wisdom on our parts as we try to teach, opportunities through His providence to have conversations about Him, providential events in the lives of the lost–events that may make them see the need for Jesus in their lives, and boldness that we may say the things that we know we need to say to the lost ones we love.
We will not win them all, because the decisions that determine destinies are, ironically, in the hands of those whose destinies are now hanging in the balance. The price has been paid, loved ones are praying and a family’s open arms are waiting. But our prayers are powerful and we can do this for each other.
If any study is exhibitive that God is on His throne and that He hears the prayers of His weary people, it is our Exodus study in the Digging Deep group. I hope you can join us on Tuesday night, September 24th, for the podcast. We’ll talk to and about this great God who changed the life blood of Egypt to death blood, in one miraculous outstretching of the rod of Aaron. He can still accomplish anything He wills. Watch the Digging Deep in God’s Word facebook group for details.
p.s. I’m very thankful for Emily Anderson and Holly Smith, who lived sacrificially for several weeks in putting together this seminar, and for the large group of my great WH sisters who just always step up to the plate and start swinging. I am especially grateful and humbled that they invited me to speak this year. I look forward already to hearing Kathy Pollard at our 2015 West Huntsville ladies seminar. You really want to be in Huntsville for that weekend! 2014 is our year to host the teen girls’ Purity Day. I’ll post details about that soon and you will want to bring both groups of girls and groups of mentors to that! I’m hearing exciting rumbles about it already. If you live near Huntsville and you need a winter retreat, we’ll be together again on January 31st and February 1st at the Hilton Garden Inn to be fed by Kristi Burleson, of Henderson, TN.