It appears that the pastor actually meant what he said!
Instead of being inspired and motivated, we were invited to relax. We took some deep breaths, prayed and the facilitators even spoke slowly and purposefully.
As a mum of busy children and a sufferer of anxiety and depression, I found sitting there in silence waiting......and waiting very difficult. I found I had to do something - take a few notes, click my pen, bob my foot on crossed legs, make faces at the baby in the bouncer at my feet, look around the room, pop some magnesium tablets I use for anxiety.......
It took me about an hour to calm down enough to wind down. And man, I was I tired when I did! I had a difficult time staying awake!
Thankfully, we moved around a bit in groups which helped me concentrate.
One of the activities we used for 'Going Deeper' with God (the theme of the retreat), was just being with the scripture and putting yourself in the scene by choosing a character we resonated with.
I'd like to share with you what I wrote about my response to the following passage of scripture.
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
I connected to this character because she is a desperate mother. She has found herself at the end of her rope, dangling, like a traveler stranded alone in the desert. All her resources are used up. She is clueless about what to do next. She's helpless and desperate for guidance, for hope, for help.
The woman in her desperation becomes a pest. She's annoying people with her endless searching and crying and seeking. That is me - constantly searching and seeking on this one issue: motherhood is challenging, I'm having difficulty climbing and clawing my way over this challenge. It's relentless, so she becomes relentless in her search. I'm relentless in my searching , my seeking. I, like the woman cry out to Jesus all the time -for help, for hope and for guidance.
Both her and I love our children deeply. Like the stranded traveler in the desert, we can never stop seeking, never rest and never give up. To give up is an option too terrible to contemplate. Everything we have and everything we are is consumed by our search for help, for hope and for guidance from Jesus. In response, my God rewards my persistence with a solution. It's a solution that I haven't had a hand in bringing about. Like this woman, I've simply been a begging at Jesus' feet.
God sees my struggle and how relentless I have to be, just like this woman. He not only sees it, but blesses it. Like refreshing sweet rain, His blessing and provision drench my heart and soul,. As a stranded, lost, dehydrated and helpless traveler stranded in the desert sees help approaching with a bottle of cool water, I rejoice that He has provided in the past and that He has provided in the past and that He will provide in the future. Just like this desperate mum - as long as we keep searching and seeking Him, He will meet all our needs.
Friends, even one little crumb from Jesus' table is enough. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer." - Romans 12:12