|Embassy Suites, Temecula Wine Country, California|
I spent this past weekend with thirty amazing women from our "new" church at our women's retreat. At our former church of twenty years, we spent every retreat at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center in the town where we moved fourteen years ago; I attended nearly every women's retreat during our long tenure there. But when J joined the worship team at Pine Valley Community Church (PVCC) and we could walk to church rather than drive 40 miles to church (and 40 miles back up the mountain), we decided to switch to our local church. An outreach of Village Missions which helps to provide pastors in rural areas that could not support a full-time pastor on their own, PVCC is truly an amazing place.
So instead of bunking in mountain cabin-like dorms a couple of miles across town, the women of PVCC trekked up to the Embassy Suites hotel in Temecula. And were we ever spoiled! The theme of the weekend was a daisy. Remember the old tradition of pulling off daisy petals to discover if our latest crush actually loved us? We'd tug and discard petal after petal, murmuring "He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me, He loves me not. He loves me...."
Well, this daisy was to remind each of us: "He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves ME."
We spent time in prayer, in fellowship, in weeping and laughing with one another, in His Word, in worship, in solitude. It was truly a lovely weekend. And praying for one another was truly a blessing, one that I will not forget anytime soon.
Last month as I prayed through my devotional The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, I came across a prayer that spoke to me deeply. It was a Concluding Prayer of the Church for the Midday Office dated Wednesday Nearest to October 19:
O Lord my God, to You and Your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit. Fill my memory with the record of Your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of Your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what You would have me do.
Make me an instrument of Your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and let me by my life and speaking set forth Your true and living Word. Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my salvation; in praises heighten my love and gratitude; in speaking of You give me readiness of thought and expression; and grant that, by the clearness and brightness of Your Holy Word, all the world may be drawn to Your blessed kingdom. All this I ask for the sake of Your Son my Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
So may the power of Christ's divine love enlighten our days, dissipating our fears with the Truth of His Word and the brightness of His glory. His promises are true, and His will is perfection, even when we cannot see our lives as reflections of His.
He promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13.5)
He promises that ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8.28)
So we may rest in His loving arms, lifting one another up in prayer and gratitude, as we return from this time of retreat and pick up the stressful burdens of our daily lives. May His promises ring in our minds and quiet our hearts so that our focus lifts from our circumstances to His Face, the Face we will clearly see when we enter His Kingdom at long last.
He loves us. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.
With love and trust,