Six Questions Women Need To Ask Themselves Today
Last February I experienced the first ever IF:Gathering. And what is IF:Gathering you may ask? Many reading this probably already know at least a little bit if you follow me on Facebook or read some of my blog posts but now it’s less than 3 weeks away and I need to take deep breaths to calm my restless spirit. In a good way.
As a refresher before I share what I’m wrestling with these days, here’s my long and short version of 2014. I found out about IF:Gathering – a first time ever event – in November 2013 and felt like I had to be part of it. Even though I couldn’t get tickets to go to Texas where it took place, I was so glad they made it a live simulcast so women all of the world could “be there” too.
So, the first weekend of February 2014, my friend and I invited about 12 women, all in different places in their faith, and met in a small conference room for two days and experienced IF:Gathering. It was an event like none I had ever been to and I’ve been to several before. The stories the women shared were so real and raw. The speakers were women authors and bloggers, along with “non-famous” women who shared their struggles and faith that were powerful. And worship time. We sang literally on our knees facing the screen on the wall but knowing we were praising God while united with 150,000 women all around the world worshipping together. The words said in our own conversations had vulnerability written all over them. They were messy-beautiful.
During those 2 days I felt like a hot mess. I felt like I “so got” many stories that were told. As they continued, I felt a burning flame begin to grow. By the end of it, it had grown to the point where I heard God’s Spirit tell me to “REACH OUT to women in our community and make it possible for them to experience a Spirit-moving experience like I just had.”
That includes you.
Since that weekend, some of us have relentlessly been meeting and praying, asking God if hosting IF:Gathering for our community is something He’s calling us to do, or is it our personal desire? Personally, each day, I’ve read something, heard someone, or seen something that’s a whisper,or a loud shout, to keep on pursuing it.
Honestly, I feel this urgency that I can’t ignore. (I finally gave up because I denied it for some time and it didn’t seem to make it disappear.) This flame that’s still burning leads me to be part of God’s movement in OUR generation.
You still might be wondering what this IF:Gathering is all about. It’s honestly hard to explain because it’s something different. It’s something God has used to wake us up. Esther Havens, the speaker who spoke out to me the most at the first gathering last year, answers this question so beautifully.
“People ask me all the time what IF: Gathering is, I’ve thought long and hard on what I believe it is. I simply open up my hands, palms facing up in front of them and say “this” motioning to my hands being open. It’s something that God is doing and we are along for the ride. Women are being gathered across the world and they are seeking God together. Not alone, but TOGETHER. They are finding healing, freedom and community by seeking God together. They are walking in faith and believing. They are being released and shining in who they are made to be. We so easily forget the battle that we are fighting. The battle that is all around that beats us to the ground. That makes us isolate ourselves and feel alone. We listen to the lies that the enemy speaks over us rather than read the truth that God has given to us in His Word. It’s time to change this.. It’s time to equip ourselves and go to battle for each other. To find the women that are running this race alone and link arms and pull them in. This doesn’t just happen at a gathering in February. This happens where we live. In our neighborhoods, our work, our churches.”
This past fall that flame had not died. It actually continued to grow. After what seemed like a long waiting time, the time had come and this past September I had registered Alamance County as an IF:Local for IF:Gathering 2015.
What was I doing? I can’t begin to describe the excitement and fear all mixed together as I hit the final “enter” to be registered. More fear I think.
Through recent years, I’ve come to discover that my spiritual gifts are more along the line of creative communication (ie: writing), encouragement and a little bit of faith. I’m not much of a “mover and shaker” in terms of leadership, administration or decorating. (Although I think it’s fun to move and shake when it comes to dancing!)
So how did I end up here? Or why did God keep insisting I reach beyond what’s comfortable or natural? I don’t like to, but sometimes you have to do something that forces you to feel uncomfortable because you have to.
I’m so glad to be with a group of women whom God has brought together, all feeling the direction to help bring women in our community from different churches and walks of life together February 6-7, 2015. And even more, it’s been so incredible because women have been coming out and asking if they can help hand out flyers and posters to their churches, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. They’re sharing on Facebook and sending email’s to friends. People are giving words of encouragement, especially the days I most need it. Others tell me they’re praying for us and others are telling us they’d like to help us with this financially because we have no budget.
I’m awed. I’m moved. I’m thankful. We’re all taking our roles, no matter how big or small and it matters. It matters because it is God working through each of us. It isn’t us. It’s all because of Him.
But I must admit it’s still intimidating to me sometimes. It’s not because there’s not enough people to help, because we’re blessed with so many offering their time, prayers and resources. It’s a personal battle. It’s a trust challenge from God. It’s scary being a leader for an event that I envision but have never dreamed or imagined coordinating. But somehow I am. Over the past several months though, there’s been wrestling matches with the evil one and even with God. While waiting from spring until late fall, I have questions for God because doubt that can still creep in and at the same time the evil one attempted to throw lies: It’s not worth the effort is it? It’s going to be a flop or even a disaster. You’re going to look like a fool.
Along with other IF:Local leaders, I think the scariest part of this is that I’m scared I’m going to mess up. I don’t want to mess up in a way that will keep others from seeing Christ’s love in action. There’s no way I want to help gather a group of women together for the purpose to help be in charge of an event. That’s nowhere in my thoughts or dreams. The only reason is because I want women to come to know Jesus and learn to love others well. I desire to bring women in Alamance County together, in their own context, who can challenge their people to grow, learn and love others for the right reasons. That reason is simply love for Jesus that is pure and real and can’t help but to share it. What’s beautiful is that there are so many other women who feel the same way and are saying the same reason why.
So, I’m not giving up pursing this passion God’s Spirit has ignited in me. I may be spit at but it won’t be enough to put out this flame. It’s a faith test. It’s a learning opportunity. I’m learning that this isn’t about something for God. It’s about doing something with God.
IF is not just an event in February. It’s more than that and because there’s hardly words to find to describe it, just believer me that if you come, you’ll get it. God is doing something huge in the hearts of women right now and I so want you to be a part of it.
As Esther Havens writes and challenges us with these six questions, “The purpose of IF:Gathering is to bring women from different denominations, races, and cultures to seek God together and wrestle with some questions we all have. We wrestled with the questions: What IF God is real? How would each of us live differently? How would we face our fears if we truly believed that with every part of our souls? What IF we trusted where God was leading us even when we didn’t see the outcome? What IF we were honest with each other? What IF we trusted God instead of ourselves with what HE was doing with this gathering?”
Oh, what challenging questions but your answers will be beautiful. Even if they’re messy-beautiful. I can hardly wait to learn the answers to some of those questions. Some may remain unanswered but I trust and believe God will meet you right where you are. I can hardly wait to gather with you and other women at IF:Gathering at Elon University in a few weeks and do some wrestling with you.
Here’s another great way to get connected and prepared for the Gathering: Starting January 19 for 3 weeks, join IF:Equip and study the book and life of Joshua and his faith which is the main theme of IF:Gathering this year. Listen to this about it.