This weekend much of our country was blanketed in snow. Plans dampened and changed by a week sprinkled with school closings and travel delays.
But under all the cold, the ground was warming and new life was beginning and it felt like Aslan was stirring.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Like-minded women gathered this weekend in Austin for something named If:Gathering. 1200 came together for no purpose other than to look each other in the eye and ask “If God is real, then what?” No agenda, no pretense, no fluff. Not only did they gather under one roof, they also threw the doors open wide and said to the world, ya’ll come too!
Via the magic of the internet and technology, which can be a blessing and a curse, we were able to ask this same question collectively and almost simultaneously in living rooms and churches literally all over the world. They named it If:Local and numbers were somewhere in the 20,000s.
God nudged me weeks ago to open my own door and invite not only a few friends, but strangers. To invite women from different churches and backgrounds. To go beyond my comfort zone into the land of risky and vulnerable and welcome strangers to join me in the unknown of this thing called IF. This resulted in 20 women from 9 area churches of all flavors making connections, getting real, and acknowledging that we all love the same Jesus. Who knew?
What this weekend looked like to me was stories, linking arms with stories inside of THE greatest story. Looking at walls and climbing right over them. Looking each other in the eye and asking “IF God is real, what does that look like for us? How are we going to let that belief change our race?”
This morning I woke up feeling a little bit like Lucy when she stepped into Narnia. A little bit like an Israelite stepping out of my tent to find manna on the ground and asking “What is it?”
What is it? Initially, it feels like revival. The breaking of hearts for what breaks His. Women all over the world getting off high center or climbing out of ruts to step up to the starting line of a race set before us.
The earth surely trembled and I pray that Aslan is about to move in all the glory He deserves.
I hear a song playing in my head as I reflect on the past two days, a beautiful incredible song from my acapella heritage sung in four-part harmony, building in intensity. These are the words:
There’s a stirring deep within me;
Could it be my time has come?
When I’ll see my gracious Savior
Face to face when all is done.
Is that his voice I am hearing?
“Come away my precious one.”
Is he calling me?
Is he calling me?
I will rise up, rise up
And bow down, and lay my crown
At his wounded feet!
God is doing a new thing. It’s new wineskins for new wine. It’s an arrival in the promised land. And we have no idea what it is going to look like.
And that is OK. But make no mistake, thousands of women have been challenged to choose freedom over deliverance. Spring is coming.
Here are just a few of the words spoken over us this weekend:
“We can be a generation that said I choose obedience by faith. We can be a generation that can live like our God is real…God is on the move and this about us joining him…I want to see in my lifetime a generation of un-numb, un-stuck, focused missionaries empowered by the Spirit, building the kingdom of God together.” – Jennie Allen
“Why settle for deliverance when you could have freedom?…A lot of us talk and argue about the Word, but I’m not sure how many of us abide in it….At the end of the day there’s an impossible wall. The key, if you are going to move forward in faith to break down the wall in front of you, is to believe the truth of His Word over the facts of the situation…..For some of you have come out of Egypt but Egypt is still in you. We owe it to the future generations to get free.” – Christine Caine
“Perfectionism is a form of prostitution. Here God, here is my _____. Now you owe me. What if we stopped the transactional business model of church, where we decide on how much we give based on how much we get?…..Stop performing for love! Stop trying to earn love like a prostitute.” – Ann Voskamp
“Is the life I lead really the life that wants to be led?…..The ‘fall’ may be around you but the fall is not in you. Christ is in you.” – Rebekah Lyons
“We can hold our differences loosely, while we love each other fiercely….The world measures greatness by power. Jesus measure greatness by service…If we don’t get the truth of ‘Love God, Loved by God’ then everything else we do or believe is tainted. Church becomes an enterprise, faith becomes something to defend or prove, people become commodities, christianity becomes a contest and the Word becomes a bludgeon. If we give up being Jesus defenders we are set free to be Jesus representatives.” – Jen Hatmaker
“Sometimes God chooses to do something in our lifetime that there is not vocabulary existing to describe exactly what it is. It is a ‘What is it’ blessing. That is what this IF weekend is all about.” – Tara Jenkins
So much more to say that is all tumbled together right now. So enough.
However, can’t help but include the “you-had-to-be-there” quote from Jen Hatmaker….”If you give a hamburger to a homeless person you just might end up with Ethiopians in your house.”