Last weekend, 45 women from TFC heard stories from six of our elders’ wives about the places God has taken them on their journey to follow Him.
If I had to choose one word to describe this weekend of stories, that word would be, “important”. I hope that does not sound arrogant, because I don’t think that I, the elders’ wives, or anyone else there was the “important” I am describing. What seemed important was the truth of the Gospel and the power of sharing it together in community.
The stories these women told were real. They were raw. They were honest, which is not always good (it can be self-focused and even damaging), but in the case of these six women, the honesty was full of humility. They were honest about their joy, their pain, and deeply honest about their sin.
And even that is not what was important about the weekend. But it led us to the important. The important was that as these women shared what was true, they led us to their only hope–to their amazing, overwhelming, joyful hope of forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation, and new life in Jesus Christ. Woman after woman shared ways God had emptied/is emptying them of everything they have depended upon, and ways they are being filled with the sure and certain hope of life in and dependence on Christ.
It changed THEM–even the process of writing and giving these talks gave them new opportunities to confess sin and receive grace and hope in Christ, which they were then able to offer to us. It changed US–no longer did we see these women as separate from us or “having it all together”. And no longer did we feel the need to present ourselves as such, either. One woman said it well: “The conversations I’ve seen happen this weekend are very different than what I’ve seen before.” We went to places in each other’s hearts where the Gospel is needed, and where joy and hope replace fear, doubt, mistrust, and bitterness.
There’s one more thing that seemed important about this weekend. We were unified. The differences in ages and stages of life melted away, and we were a solid group, moving in the same direction–toward the cross, and then to each other in light of that. And it didn’t stop there. Saturday afternoon, an impromptu gathering on couches in the lodge became a brainstorming session for how we could do something to reach out to women in our community. It was as if we had heard the good news, and our passion was newly aflame to share what we had heard and seen and experienced with others–to invite them into the life we were seeing afresh.
This important weekend was a joy to me, but not a surprise. This is where we are as a church at TFC. We are looking at things as they really are. We are confessing sin. We are asking for forgiveness. We are seeing our need for the Gospel in new ways, and we are seeing the power and hope of the Gospel in new ways. We are moving together toward the cross, and we are finding new life among us, life in Christ that we are eager to share in new ways with each other, and with visitors, and with our community, and with our world.
God is writing for us a corporate story, and our individual stories are small parts of that. The stories told at the women’s retreat, not just from the elders wives but from all of us, help tell others the story of Christ and His Kingdom–and that is what is important.
TFC Women’s Director