I think I may have just attended the best women’s retreat ever, but I don’t have anything to compare it to so you’ll have to decide for yourself. I need to rave about it though. You see, I have always been highly suspect of women’s retreats and how much makeup and nail polish may or may not be involved in said women’s retreats.
Therefore, the following review segments will be a description of what I really enjoyed about our weekend, and will not include a comparison to any other retreat. I do, however, reserve the right to compare it to known stereotypes if I so desire. I have already realized that this review will be far too long for one blog post, so here comes the first of…I don’t know.
First off, I really appreciated both the style and content of the teaching, along with the complete absence of pricey fill-in-the-blank style workbooks. I dearly appreciated being treated like an adult who can bring a Bible and a notebook, and take notes on the things that strike me as important, forming my own opinions on the heart work God may be doing on the inside. Of me.
Message number one dealt with the Christian’s propensity to easily become a works-driven people, and especially the Christian woman’s particular bent toward this. It was a wonderful reminder that God doesn’t need us. For anything. If I completely fail at every appointed task in my lifetime, God would still be God. That takes a lot of pressure off, doesn’t it?
Performance-based Christianity is a dangerous bird. We act as though God doesn’t see inside our dark, dark heart. Like He only sees the show we put on for others. Like we can fool Him. The speaker put it this way:
“We attempt to impress God with our performance while
we are shielding our hearts from Him at the same time.”
It’s unfortunate, because there is a better way. God wants to give me His grace, He doesn’t want my best. He doesn’t want me to clean myself up and present myself all pretty and clean, doing good deeds in order to make myself acceptable to Him. God does not need my sacrifice. He wants my heart. Even the ugly, dirty, angry parts of my heart. David knew there was nothing he could do (sacrifice) in order to appease God after what he’d done:
“O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
(Psalm 51:15-17 ESV)
There is another danger—if I move from being self-righteous right on over to the other ditch and become self-loathing, I have completely missed the point. Satan wins, because either way I am self-centered. What happens when I instead surrender myself and those sins (idols) that I hold onto so tightly? I can finally focus on Christ! I can allow Him to be my Advocate!
The only real gift I can give to God is my sinful heart. I surrender it to God at the cross and he accepts that dark, black rock that I have been holding onto like it was a treasure, and He turns it into something that can be seen in the light.
More to come.