This past weekend 33 women (and one guy, the worship leader) retreated to a beautiful camp to seek God’s voice in quietness, solitude, silence in the middle of orange, red, yellow fall leaves in Central Arkansas. I’ve lost count of how many Silent Prayer Retreats I’ve led in the past several years. All because one day I was looking for a movie to entertain me on a Friday night, and while scanning the blockbuster aisle, I stumbled on a documentary about Being Still & Silence. I had no idea God’s voice in silence could leave me speechless.
On Friday night (Nov.2) I shared my struggle with the woman caught in adultery from John 8:1-11. Struggle. Mental block. Numbness is what I felt a few days before as I read, re-read…read again…that passage that was making me uncomfortable. It wasn’t the nicely-packaged-story, with the nicely-packaged-lesson, and a nicely-packaged-encounter between Jesus and a woman. It was controversial. Scandalous. Naked. Shame. Guilt. Violent. Stoning of a woman. Blood-thirsty. Legalistic. I didn’t want to enter the story…I didn’t want to be that woman…I didn’t want to be the blood-thirsty Pharisee either, picking up the stone. Savage. I wanted to be the merciful-Jesus. But I wasn’t. A friend prayed for me. A pastor. A brother. Spirit anointed prayer. Broke me. Pierced me. Tears. Snot. Shame. Swimming in the sludge of my sin for a minute was quite enough. Quite. Enough. To ask for Forgiveness. Who was I kidding? How could I speak before these women? teach what? hypocrisy? Damn it. Thank you for making me enter the story. I had been walking around it. But I entered it. Found my place. Sat down. Found my view. My spot. Watched it all unfold. Colorfully. Heart beating. My face in a mirror. My shame. My guilt. My wounds. Redemption.
Saturday we woke up in silence. Got ready without saying a word. Ate breakfast slowly. Ahhh! the dream of a mother to eat in silence & uninterrupted. Coffee in a cup. Hot coffee that didn’t grow cold as you multi-tasked on a normal morning trying to rush out the door to work/daycare! Heart slowing down. Mind starting to let go of busy-ness. Heart anticipating a rhema Word from God. Discerning the Lies of the enemy. Replacing the holes with Truth.
I do not condemn you, either.
The one with the authority to condemn, didn’t. The ones with the desire to stone: walked away one by one.
Go. Be free. Nah’. Don’t worry about it. A beating will take place. But I WILL take it for you. Mercy.
…and sin no more.
Jesus wasn’t clueless. He knew her sin. But he said it like it is. SIN. NO. MORE. You can’t get any better until someone tells you the Truth, right? preach it bro, preach it, with mercy. grace. forgiveness.
The prayer rooms we entered were intimate:
Abiding Room – with a list of the Verbs of God from The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg.
Forgiveness Room– keep wanting to delete it from the prayer guide, but I can’t, women always get stuck there for hours…hard to let go of a hurt, so used to it, where would we be without it?
Renaming Room – intimate. God giving us a new name. New identity. Seeing ourselves how God sees us. I was disappointed I didn’t get a name, but He gave me 2 words: “Speak. Stand Upright.” Intimate…too much to say.
Contemplation Room – yep. Don’t think. Don’t ask. Don’t read. Relax. Be still. Walk. Nap. Sit. Take in the silence. It’s like a Q-tip that unclogs the crap.
Sharing time….too intimate. No room for details here. But nevertheless my friend & sister, Caffhanie Calloway captured it all. She started listening from God and writing a poem about our time. She listened to God. She listened attentively to her sisters. She listened to the tears, the unfinished words, the pain coming out of our throats closing up, afraid to speak the truth of the lies we’ve believed. She kept writing. Talented. Creative. Rhythmic. Poetic. Raw. Honest. Soulful. She wrote not only for the page. She also wrote for the voice. When she read it with her expressive cadence,accentuating those important words, my mouth dropped. I wanted that voice recorded. That voice. God’s pleasant voice. Smiling voice. Voice pleased. Delighting in His daughters. No condemnation.
Funny. Today is Election day in the United States. But true freedom is captured in this poem.
(shared with permission by Caffhanie Calloway – all rights reserved).
She wit da broken heart—mended
She wit da battered soul—tended
Her tattered cape flapp’n
She wit da bruised body—heal’n
She wit da heated stare—chill’n
She swimm’n like dem dolphins
Her mangled arms gettin stronger
Needle points and razor cuts
The Spirit accepts hah every touch
She wit da untreatable disease—surviva
She wit da unplanned baby—momma
She smil’n thru hah tears
She won’t give up cuz dem fears
Hands callused and covered in sores
But the Son, He love hah even more
She wit da dark eyes—lighten
She wit da weakened mind—fightin’
She crawling thru the anger, violence, and deceit
She plummets thru the ravage, the danger, and the wraith
All she got wit hah is faith
She hit from all angles—chest, arms, and legs
Bleed’n from self-deception, pride, and dread
She wit da damaged armor haphazardly hang’n on
Took that seed thru the field wit hah
Body dragg’n low—pull’n, strugglin’—strugglin’
She wit da exhausted state—enliven—layin flat to the dirt
dredging to the line where love comes first
She wit hah crusted fingers—grasp’n
Wit renewed force abound—
Securely wit’n the Hand she found