The spring Women’s Retreat is now history. And what a weekend it was! The best part was not the food, nor the setting by the beach, nor the speakers. The best part was the spiritual connectedness that we women enjoyed with each other.
Fifteen women from all walks of life shared life together for a few days. While doing various things, we talked of our lives, under the Cross. Cindi & Leigh challenged some to physical stewardship; what a joy to watch the power of God displayed in this area of Life. Bridget & Kim served in driving & organization. Nancy opened her home in hospitality. Kim & BeckyLynn sat by the pool & talked. Mothers discussed the challenges of raising children in this age. Some shared in the burden of caring for aging parents or grown children.
One of the greatest joys was listening to Cindi recite the entire book of James. I sat back & listened, imagining what it must have been like when that letter was first read to the new believers 2,000 years ago.
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
The words rolled off the tongue of Cindi as smooth & comforting as ever could have come from the mouth of the old apostle James.
And then several women shared what God was teaching them personally. One shared about the conviction she had of failing another sister, and the restoration that took place when that was dealt with. Another shared about the challenge to trust God in the area of finances, as she moved from one situation to another. Others shared about the desire to be godly mothers to their children, and the sense of frustration in learning how to discipline for godliness. Others shared about the journey towards holiness as they struggled with past choices.
Each had her own personal journey with God, and in each was the grace of the Lord displayed as she moved towards becoming more like the Son.
For myself, the speaker that I enjoyed the most was an older woman named Sandy. She shared in the early morning devotions. She spoke on the life of Moses, and how his phases in life reflect ours. She put his stages into “B” words.
Bequeathed…given life from on high
Birthed…into a chosen family, under specific circumstances
Blossomed…into young adulthood, with all its idealism and pitfalls
Bungled…mishandled an opportunity for justice
Betrayed…by the very ones he wanted to help
Broken & Battered…left in a state of apathy, settled into a life of nothingness
Beckoned…by the Lord of Hosts, to service for Him
Bolstered…given partners in the work as well as clear assurance of His presence & power
Branded…labeled as a servant of the Most High God
Burdened, Bothered, Bewildered…in the meeting of his responsibilities
Beneficent…generous-hearted towards those who made his life difficult
Blessed …reaped the blessing of God for his faithfulness
Blessing…gave blessing to others as he departed this life
As we pulled back into the church parking lot, Life moved forward. One would be leaving disability payments and entering the work force again. Another would lose her father to death within 24 hours. Another resumed chemo treatments. Another began a new job. The responsibilities of children & marriage & home resumed.