This past weekend, around 50 women from different walks of life, different churches, representing one body, huddled together in a local café. We laughed, loved, broke bread together, and worshiped our Lord, singing loud. Via simulcast we hung on every word spoken through a beautifully authentic and talented band of sisters assembled in a convention hall in Texas. Oh the mystifying power of Jesus and modern technology! What is effectively known as the “IF:Gathering” took place live in Austin with around 1200 in attendance while the rest of the nation – around 40,000 or so I’m told, were only a few miles from our respective homes, praying the live stream would function so we could drink from the overflow of contagious enthusiasm shooting straight from that place in the Lone Star state. The fact that the technology worked with few glitches (at which time our local ladies chose to share disastrous haircut stories and pilfer through our purses in an effort to win some super cute “IF” t-shirts we gave away) is proof alone of a miracle-producing, resurrected Jesus, if you ask me!
The whole premise of the 15 hour conference was to entertain the question, “IF God is real, then WHAT?” If we truly believe what we SAY we believe, how would/could/should that change our lives, our community and ultimately, our world? Intriguing? Certainly. New? Maybe not. King Solomon declared in the book of Ecclesiastes, “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Why would we attempt to defy this ancient wisdom and suppose THIS time, at THIS juncture with THESE women it would be any different?
What Solomon didn’t account for were the culture churning x-factors of FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.
Or in a Word – Jesus.
The author of Hebrews writes, “FAITH is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we DO NOT SEE.” (Heb 11:1) No one knew exactly what this “IF:Gathering” was going to be about, not even its God-following founders. Collectively, all we tasted were a few morsels of hope. Hope that there just might be other women around the country and even, the world, sensing a call to lives of radical faith; one in which unprecedented unity (read: Jesus) could ultimately lead to radical action (again: Jesus), made us hungry for more. Could we actually band together as a group of ordinary extraordinary women to eradicate the status quo and make some real change in the world in the name of Jesus Christ? Be still my beating heart!
King Solomon didn’t factor in the power of the LOVE of the Father, the HOPE of Christ, and the FAITH altering presence of the Holy Spirit, in triune unity breathing new life into a generation of women who cannot and will not settle for the same old thing. A generation of women from 8 to 98 filled with the Holy Spirit, ready to pick up the baton and run the race marked out for us both individually and corporately. An Esther generation (http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/06/why-you-are-where-you-are-for-such-a-time-as-this/) of women who are not oblivious to pain and suffering, but recognize it as such, and declare victory over it!
Yes, darkness exists, but when the Lord created the world He said, “Let there be light.” Not, let there be dark. The distinction is in the separation. When one of my “sisters” is on her last leg, limping along, battered and broken, we hold her up. And when lies of the enemy creep through any crack or crevice allowing even microscopic access to my weary body, my sisters come alongside me and raise my arms.
This is radical community. Radical community leads to radical love. And love changes everything.
If we are truly new creations in Christ Jesus, there is no room for unbelief. Oh Lord, help my unbelief! If I have a game stopping day and have trouble believing God’s promises for me, she believes. And if she doesn’t believe His promises for her, I do. It is that simple. Together we make up one body. In a body of grace and belief there are no cracks. Brokenness redeemed breeds impenetrable hope. We are “army strong;” allowing no room for the lies of the enemy to set up camp. We link arms together in a circle of hope that never runs dry.
I suppose King Solomon was right. There really is nothing new under the sun because, the very thing any of us seek, the thing for which our souls yearn is not at all new. He has, in fact, existed since the inception of the world. In a broad sweep of holy grace, our Heavenly Father made provision for this longing before human breath was inhaled. Before He breathed the world into existence, He provided – Himself; the Word – a Word existing in holy union, three-in-one, since the beginning of time. This Word created all things, and without him was not anything made that was made. We exist because He exists. “In the Word was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
If those words don’t reap rapid heart rate, I challenge you to check your pulse and read it again.
But alas, we are human. Inevitably, we circle the wagons, allowing darkness to creep and settle. Showing our hand we utter, “If God is real, then what?”
The very question betrays the limits of human understanding. IF God is real, THEN we should be looking up! A new rain is falling; heaven’s rain – rain that has the power to make all things new. Mere human language cannot begin to describe the vastness of this reality. Since the beginning of time God has been about the business of doing ‘new things’ but we have trouble perceiving them. (Isaiah 43:19)
Theologian Lesslie Newbigin tackles this idea brilliantly in his exposition on the gospel of John, titled The Light Has Come:
“what if the new thing which he wants to introduce is so radically new that it calls in question all previous axioms and assumptions, all inherited tradition and all human experience, so that even language itself cannot serve to communicate it? What if the new thing is in fact the primal truth by which all else has to be confronted and questioned?” (pg. 2)
What IF the “new” thing the Word plans to give us a radical outpouring of – Himself?!
There never has been and never will be anything more glorious. This weekend gathering was a glimpse of exactly that – no formulas, no five-step plans, but a fresh dose of holy rain! If we want to stand in the grace of God’s showering love then we have to put down the umbrellas.
Dear friends, silver and gold we may not have, but what we have we give – in the name of Jesus Christ, get up. Run, don’t walk. Put one foot in front of the other and run the race marked out for you like your life depends on it, like your kids’ lives depend on it and their kids after that – because they do.
If GOD is what is real, if JESUS is what we have to give away, through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, what in heaven’s name are we waiting for?
Get Him. Get up. Go forth.
He is yours for the taking and for the giving. May we never again be accused of not perceiving.
He is here and He is always new.
PS — As my husband often says, “It’s never about the money, but it often involves money.” So, if you have silver and gold, go ahead and give that too.