The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1
I recently attended a women’s retreat put on by the church I have been attending. My family and I have only been attending this church for a few months and before I went to the retreat I did not know many of the women from church. When the pastor first started making announcements about the retreat I was a little interested but mostly I was fearful. I didn’t want to go. I don’t know anyone. What if my faith is different from their faith? What if they think the way I worship is weird? Will I fit in with them? Will they like me or think I’m odd? Will my family be okay while I’m gone? Will my husband be able to handle the kids on his own? Will they remember to brush their teeth? These were all the thoughts and fears that went through my head and all the excuses I gave for not going.
Finally my husband and a dear friend convinced me to attend the retreat. So I called the church office and signed up. Let me say this was a working of the Holy Spirit on my heart. I had made up my mind and dug in my heels and I was not going to go this retreat! Someone must have been praying for me to attend (if that person is reading this now, thank you!) because my heart and mind were both changed suddenly and I was looking forward to the weekend.
The excitement did not last long however. From the moment I arrived at the retreat center, those fear and doubts began to plague me to the point of distraction. During each of the teaching sessions my fears blurred my focus, they hindered my worship, and they stifled my prayers. To be completely honest, I was a bit miserable, sometimes on the verge of tears. God knew what I needed though, and little by little He brought Himself back into my focus.
God did not send me to that retreat to make friends (though I did end up making many new friends over the weekend). He sent me to that retreat so that I may enter a new dimension in my relationship with Him.
The ladies that led the retreat taught and spoke on the act of worship. One section of scripture that I came away with engraved on my heart is from 2 Samuel 24:24. In it King David says, “Nor will I offer burnt offering to the LORD my God with that which cost me nothing.” The Lord knew I needed to hear that. A worship-filled life is more than just singing songs and raising our hands with a group of like-minded people each Sunday. A worship-filled life is one of sacrifice, one that may be uncomfortable or hurt sometimes. God revealed to me that my worship has cost me very little; that when I worship Him I hold back out of fear of what others may think (even when I am in church and with fellow believers). Those fears that I mentioned earlier were keeping me from fully worshiping the Lord. They hindered my worship of Him; they kept me from pouring out all that I am to Him.
On the final day of the retreat I found myself on my knees begging God not to let me leave that retreat unchanged. He quietly reminded me of all that I had learned over the past few days and asked me to worship Him fully, to sacrifice my fears at His alter, to approach His feet unwilling to let my focus be on what others might think of me. You see God doesn’t want a puny sacrifice (if you don’t believe me read the book of Leviticus and then read about the ultimate sacrifice nailed on The Cross in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and I don’t want to offer something puny. I want to give Him something that hurts a little; something that tears away my ugliness and selfishness and that tears away my sinful nature so that if can be replaced by His beauty. I long to be sweetly broken.
I wasted the first half of that retreat in fear. How silly of me when I remember that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). I will not waste another weekend retreat or any other day for that matter living in fear. I will live fully worshiping the LORD my God. Will you?