This past weekend at a retreat with the Sisters in Spirit at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins Minnesota, my colleague Laurie Erickson and I spent time together creating a safe container for women to talk about living in God’s love and light.
We opened with the story of the woman at the well in John 4. We practiced raising our levels of awareness and increasing our ability to be present at the moment. Being able to slow down, clear our minds, breathe and be able to create an opening and to create safe space is a foundational piece for living in God’s unconditional love and light. We shared stories about the challenges of being a woman and being able to have awareness and being present in our daily lives.
We went deeper in the challenge of busyness by spending time in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. As we listened to the story of Martha complaining about all the hard work she was doing while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. How Jesus approached her, and they were able to walk and talk. Spending quality time with Jesus, Martha came to realize that her relationship with Jesus trumped all her works.Learning to sit with Jesus and spend time with Him was the beautiful lesson for Martha.
We asked ourselves, why are we so busy? Why do we focus so much on works rather than sitting and spending time in prayer and reflection? What are the true reasons that we are keeping ourselves so busy?
After we spent time considering why our culture is so focused on busyness and so focused on doing rather than being we had ah-ha that we drive the busyness ourselves. We many times create the pace of our world. We posed a question to the group of what are the things that are separating you from God?
What separates you from God? This is a big question for a lot of people including myself. What are the things that I am doing? Where am I spending my time of my day? How much of my day do I dedicate to God? Is it five or 10 minutes of prayer versus the other 23 hours and 50 minutes of the day.
How do we spend our time each day and how much of it is with God? This is a big question for a lot of people including myself. What are the things that I am doing? Where am I spending my time of my day? How much of my day do I dedicate to worldly matters versus Godly matters? We posed the question to the group and asked them what separates you from spending time with God?
What I loved about this activity was the honesty from the women in the group. While we do have responsibilities with our family and with work, there are organic opportunities to sit and spend time with God. We shared ideas from doing devotions before the day starts to saying prayers during your commute time to doing evening prayers with our children. In sharing suggestions in the community, we can learn from each other. From generation to generation. From woman to woman. From Sister in Spirit to Sister in Spirit.
My next activity was one of my favorites. We asked everyone in the room to spend some time writing on a piece of paper what burdens they were carrying with them today. What were those heavy things on their heart and mind that they might be willing to let go to God? We listened to that beautiful song by David Crowder called Lay Down Your Burdens. As the women in the room had their concerns written on slips of paper, we asked them to crumple up those papers, and we had the women release those slips of paper into an urn with the fire and burn them. We released our burdens to God.
We sang the song be Let Our Prayers Rise Up Like Incense Before You. We watched as the smoke lifted from the urn and our burdens were released to God. We were making a sacred space for God. It was a very moving moment.
With lighter hearts and a sacred space, we spent time in God’s love notes, which is what I call the Bible. We read scriptures about how we are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and how God loves us unconditionally (John 3:16, Romans 5:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to name a few).
We encouraged everyone to find a way to live daily spending time in God’s love notes. Whether it’s a quick song Good morning God, this is your day; I am your child, show me your way. Or perhaps it is a devotion, or a Bible study, or reading the Bible. Being in the word of God every day is a life changer and a heart changer.
Today as you think about where you are, and where you would like to be, I strongly encourage you to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus and share your burdens with him. He resides within your heart and awaits you. I also encourage you to invite God’s love and light into your physical body. Just closing your eyes and visualizing his love and light pouring through the cells in your body to help heal what deals you is also a very powerful exercise.
I would like to thank my colleague Laurie Erickson who co-lead this retreat with me. Laurie and I have a new book coming out in April 2017 titled: Seeing Yourself As God Sees You: Don’t Let Lies Be Your Truth. This seven-week devotion provides healing for the inner critics and mis-beliefs that each of us can carry. Stay tuned for information on ordering your copy.