Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Covered


At the beginning of this summer something came to an end and something began.

In April a group of women from various churches began to gather together for a simple women’s bible study. We were going to meet for seven weeks and work through a study together.

Little did we know.

I should have known this was going to be something quite different than I had ever experienced before. Earlier in the year my husband and I worked through a book called Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. This is a 40 day prayer challenge based on the book The Circle Maker by the same author. During those 40 days the Spirit challenged me. During those 40 days I kept asking the Father to please show me the next step I needed to take,and He answered me in ways I wasn't quite expecting. In the course of that prayer challenge I knew I was being called to lead a women’s Bible study at our church. Our women were hungry and eager.

I began looking at and reading various women’s studies. At this point due to a recommendation on Ann Voskamp’s blog I bought and began to read Idol Lies by Dee Brestin. Midway through the book I stopped. Just closed the book. It was hitting far too close to home. I met myself far too often in the pages of this book, so I put it aside. I needed to go back to breathing.

Later with trepidation I came back to the book. I finished it, but the finish did not come easily.

When it was announced that I would lead a women’s study the search for the right one became a priority. I prayed and prayed. And then I prayed more. I narrowed it down to two.

For weeks I leaned toward one, but then as I prayed I began to sense a strong leading toward Idol Lies.

What happened in the coming weeks seemed surreal. There were times after our Sunday night sessions that I would leave and wonder if I had truly seen what I had just witnessed. From the beginning the women decided they were going to be real and transparent and honest.

Real with each other. Transparent with God. Honest with themselves.

Week after week I watched them and the Spirit would whisper to me: This, this is what the Body looks like. This is what happens when women (or men) decide they want more of the Father and less of themselves. There were nights that I would pray and ask the Lord to hold back the river of tears that swam behind my eyes. I knew that once the banks overflowed I would not be able to stop.

James explains that when the Body of Christ participates in true confession then there is healing. And that is what I was privy to—I was privileged to witness women confessing the existence of their idols and asking for ways to break them and crush them.

I was amazed at the sheer and profound lack of judgment among these women. They shared freely and openly. Many women shared things that had never seen the light of day, things that had been hidden in the dark, buried under years of debris and fall out and shame.

I was amazed at the immediacy with which these women came to the one another’s aid. How quick these women were to lean in and pray and encourage and exhort. This encouragement was not soft; it was not just emotional, but edge-worthy and piercing at times.

I was amazed at the consistency of follow-up these women had for one another. We created a closed Facebook page and during the week notes would be posted for further prayer and some of the kindest and most beneficial words would be offered.

I was amazed at the vast depth and breadth of experience these women held collectively. The diversity of age and walks of life and church affiliation were extensive.

I was amazed (are you getting that point yet?). I was amazed what our God can do and will do when his people call on him, when his people seek him with all their hearts.

During out time together a theme ran as a crimson thread through every meeting. This thread became our banner. We literally sat under this banner every week: the beautiful word and concept of God’s HESED.







The covenant love of God for his people. His women.

We are loved by and through God’s loving-kindness. We are bought and ransomed and redeemed because of God’s great HESED. The working definition the women of our group began to use was:

The consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of God.

The relentless and fierce love of God covers us. It is his covenant with us—this covenant of grace love. And when we walked into our fellowship hall and bared our souls and spirits to one another the banner of that love literally hung over us. But even more through the daily posts on the FB page this concept of God’s covenant love would be extended over and over. Many times these women would say to one another I pray our Father’s HESED over you. May you know His HESED today.

I watched women pray over each other. Lay warm hands on one another and pray heaven down and into each other.

None of us were ready for the study and our time together to be finished. But God, our Abba, knows how to not only begin all things, but he knows how to end all things.

I had been meeting with one of the young women of the group outside of the bible study. God had been pursuing her, chasing her with his Hesed—offering her a new life, a new story. One day while we were in The Cairn she told us that she wanted to take her relationship with the Lord to another level. She wanted to make a commitment to him; she understood that he had made a commitment to her, but she knew she needed and wanted to be baptized. So, we discussed time and place. She chose to be baptized with our Idol Lies group as her witnesses. She wanted these women to be privy to her testimony that Jesus is who he says he is.

The last night of our Bible study we drove to the home of one of our women. Almost thirty women gathered around the glistening pool—pristine and blue. The sun was shining still. The water lapped against the steps.



Idol Lies Bible Study Group 2013

And there we watched a young woman allow God to wash away the power of the idols in her life. We watched as a young woman died—died to the slavery and bondage that comes from the clasping claws of idols. And we watched her be resurrected. Resurrected into a new life, resurrected not as a slave, but as a servant: a servant of the Most High God. His Hesed covered her that day. God’s precious, relentless, lavish and extravagant grace love became the banner over her as she walked out of the water and up the steps.

We came up onto the deck around the pool and the young woman was wrapped in our banner—the one that hung over us for weeks. Somewhere in the crowd an angel began to sing.








Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.

I tried to sing the words. Because of the choked places in me they were only whispers, and then I could only mouth the phrases. As I walked back to the house to change those words followed and trailed after me.

Then I remembered how we started the study. We began with the words from Hosea 6:1-2:


Come, let us return to the Lord,

He has torn us to pieces,

But he will heal us;

He has injured us

But he will bind up our wounds.

After two days he will revive us;

On the third day he will restore us,

that we may live in his presence.



During this Idol Lies study we were torn to pieces and we were injured. But God himself bound up our wounds. He healed us that we might live in His Presence. And isn't that what it is all about anyway? Regardless? That we may LIVE in His Presence?

Our prayer for you is that you know this Hesed of God. May you come to the place that you know you are covered. Our whole group prays that blessing on and for you. May you accept and enter into the covenant grace and love of the Father.

Glory, what a Savior!

He finishes everything he starts.









Idol Lies by Dee Brestin. The redeeming work? Only our good and gracious God!





Each woman received their own Hesed banner at the end of the study.


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