The 2010 Women’s Retreat, long planned for and prayed over, is now a sweet memory. As we gathered together for worship and fellowship Jesus spoke through beautiful smiles, many tears, encouraging words, servant hearts and the messages He gave to Joanna Coppedge and Kelly Hallahan to share with us.
As we looked at the prophetess Deborah, we were reminded that we are called by name and find our identity in Christ, our relationships with our family, our work and ministry and with the world. Joanna helped us to deepen our understanding of our primary identity and relationship with Jesus, from whom all other relationships flow.
We continued our weekend looking at the fiery furnace and how Jesus is present with us in that fire and protects us there, so that our lives may be filled with His sweet fragrance, not smelling at all like the stink of the fire. And we considered the times we spend in the lion’s den, or the dungeon as Joanna named it, waiting for our God, who is mighty to save, to rescue us so that His love and faithfulness can be proclaimed to the nations. We get through those times in the dungeon only when our identity is found in Christ before, during and after our trials. Joanna challenged us to consider whether the dungeon is what defines and identifies us, or if it is our relationship with God that is our identity.
Joanna concluded her time with us turning our hearts toward thankfulness, even in the fires of life, showing us how a heart of gratitude does not change our circumstances, but does change our perspective and brings glory to Jesus. She challenged us to practice the discipline of gratitude daily, even as Daniel did before he was cast into the dungeon with hungry lions.
On Sunday morning Kelly Hallahan continued turning our hearts toward gratitude, and challenged our ideas about the Sabbath with thoughts from the book “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchannan. We grew in understanding that the Sabbath was created for us, not because God needed a break from creation. Instead, He rested to show us an example of the holy rhythm of life, a pattern that brings rest and life to us as we observe God’s command to rest on the seventh day and receive that time as His gift to us.
Other gifts we received came from those who created beautiful spaces for fellowship, prayer and worship, a praise team who led us in music as we worshipped, those who planned activities (including the first ever Delanco Camp Rice Krispy Creation Challenge), and also from the gentlemen who served in the kitchen providing us with delicious meals.
The weekend was a wonderful time of renewal and refreshment, sent to each one there as a love gift from Jesus. As we unwrapped that gift from Jesus throughout the weekend I feel that each one there, whether for the weekend, or as a Saturday guest, received that gift and exclaimed, “Oh! This was just what I needed. Thank you!”