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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hildebrand

I Can Try To Explain


Last week my friend, Karen, and I had the opportunity to attend an Elon University InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV) meeting on campus.  My mind flooded with memories from the many IV and FCA meetings and events I went to when I was a student there at Elon…not too long ago.  Boy, we learned so much that night from those students.  We gnawed on Ezekiel 37 about dry bones, breath, and the Holy Spirit in a new-to-me way but even more, we learned how these kids’ hearts are on fire for the Lord. It was so refreshing to see them unashamed wanting to learn more, already knowledgeable of the Word and how they want to live it out in their college lives.   At the very end, Karen and I had a few minutes to tell the girls there about IF:Gathering taking place on their campus and inviting them to come and receive.  We’re so grateful for that time with them and hope we can come back.

But now, step back a few days before we went to the meeting.

A week before we were going, I was trying to wrap my mind around what to say about the event taking place on my alum college campus and my college-days flash backs pour in.  These thoughts rapidly flashed though my mind:

  1. I went to IV and FCA when I was a student there 20 years ago.

  2. January 20, 2015 – the day we’re going to IV – is the same date in 1993 when I had breakfast with my college bestie.  That morning was different because I decided to lower my mask and see if she noticed I was having a seizure – something I had kept to myself for over three years.  Well she knew something wasn’t right.

  3. Never would I have imagined speaking at IV on my stomping ground on the same day 22 years after that cold, January morning over a bowl of cereal.  I never imagined giving students an invitation to an event taking place February 6-7, 2015 that I’m passionate about because it encourages and equips women to live out their God-given purposes – something I desired at their age.

  4. Two weeks after I told my friend about my seizures, on February 4, 1993, I found out I had to have brain surgery.

  5. February 4, 1993, that same evening, I went to FCA meeting on the 2nd floor of Long Building at Elon.  That was the time and place where I cried out to God and surrendered my all to Him.

It was that time.  And that place.

I start remembering the month before my surgery.  Was I scared?  You know, I was to some degree but somehow deep down I felt calm.  That in-explainable feeling can only come through Christ.  The Truth says “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)  He gave me just the right words I needed to hear and read that month.

Because of that peace, God gave me enough faith.  It was enough because the doctor told me I had a 50% chance of not making it though surgery – but that also meant I’d be face to face with Jesus in heaven and I was very OK with that.  It was enough faith, that if I was in the other 50% chance of making it though surgery, I could believe there was a reason.

(What if one of those reasons is because of February 6-7, 2015?)

Through other people that February 1993, God gave me His promises through His Word to encourage me. The first promise was to read Joshua 1:9.  It didn’t take me long to memorize it because I read it over and over and over some more.  It got stuck to my bulletin board.  I doodled it in my notebooks as I sat in Linguistics class that month before surgery.  It was highlighted in my Bible and a bookmark on that page.  It was the last words I remember saying before I went under for surgery March 3, 1993.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified.  Do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I start putting all these pieces together as I prepare my heart for the live simulcast, IF:Gathering, next week where women from all over the world, with different walks of life, will gather together, celebrate Jesus, be equipped and unleashed to follow Christ and live His purposes for His glory in our lives.

And where will I be part of this live simulcast?  On Elon campus.  When is it?  February 6-7, 2015 – my 22nd (and 2 day) “birthday” of the day I gave my life to Christ – on Elon campus.  And what will be the theme of this year’s simulcast?  Faith and the story of Joshua, with one of the key verses Joshua 1:9 – the verse that has carried me the past 22 years.  And February 6 or 7 is more than likely the day that someone gave me that verse in 1993.


I would’ve never imagined in 1993 that God would’ve brought me back to this same spot – these same dates – centering around faith and Joshua – exactly 22 years from when I gave my life to Christ and clung to the promise of Joshua 1:9.  Back then I was so raw and new to faith – I guess the size of a mustard seed. But God gave me enough.  He gave me enough to get through that month wait before surgery.  He gave me enough to make it though surgery.  He gave me enough to get though recovery.  He gave enough to help me adjust to my loss of vision and trouble finding words.   He’s given me enough to get through each day since then.


Now 22 years later, I still can’t see fully like I used to and I still struggle with finding the words to say out loud because even though I know in my head what I’m thinking, feeling, and want to say, I often can’t speak them that way.

That also includes explaining to others what this gathering really is.  But I’ve learned I’m not alone in this matter.  I know that because reading other women’s stories, who also attended the first gathering last year like I did, have trouble finding just the right words to describe it.  God met each woman where they were.  He was present. We just know without a doubt the Holy Spirit moved us that weekend. 

I can try to explain how last year that weekend, women put on their big girl pants and went on the stage and screen in front of 500,000 around the world sharing what they wrestle with in their every day lives.  How life isn’t about doing, it’s about being.  Being with God and being who He created us to be.  We’re told in God’s Word not to shrink back, to reach to the unseen, to use the gifts He gives us – even if those gifts birthed from suffering.  But it’s still hard to explain because there was more than that.

I can try to explain that there was a feeling of sweet and beautiful unity with other women who also wrestle with faith yet knew they’d be lost if they didn’t have any at all.  In a conference room that weekend, masks were lowered, vulnerability exposed, deep conversations had, dreams shared, struggles admitted, tears released – of difficulty and joy, and Jesus was right there with us.  But it’s still hard to explain because there was more than that.

I can try to explain that worship was powerful.  Arms were raised all over the world singing the same song and the same time, praising God.  Knees were on the floor as God was glorified.  Words were  holy and hands were open to receive and release.  It was beautiful.  But it’s still hard to explain because there was more than that.

You just have to be there.  That’s really the best way for you to understand it.  It’s a time to reflect the light on Jesus. It’s a time to be in His presence with other women.  It’s Christ alone we boast and praise.

I want you to be there this time.

Although I often say I want God to use me to do His will, I believe that this gathering is a gift to do with Him.   God has invited us to be part of this with Him.  We’re just following along with Him. To be excited with Him.  To be preparing all the details of this event with Him.  To go to this party with Him where it’ll be a celebration of Jesus and life. He’s invited us to come together with other women as a body of believers or who want or need to believe something.  I don’t want you to miss out.

So please come and join with us here at Elon University February 6-7 if you live in or near Alamance County, NC.  Or you can watch from wherever you are that day on your computer here.

Please come.


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