I have the spiritual gift of administration. I find this less than thrilling. Defined as the special ability God gives to some to steer the body toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing and supervising others, I think it makes me sound like a clipboard wielding, pocket protector wearing, glasses creeping dangerously close to the tip of my nose, accountant type. Some people have the gift of evangelism and can proclaim the gospel of salvation so effectively that people respond to Christ through their leading. Others have the gift of hospitality and provide an open home to those in need of food, lodging and fellowship. Still others are blessed with the gift of exhortation and can strengthen the weary Christian through encouragement and comfort. I'd be pretty thrilled with one of those. But, we do not choose our spiritual gift and God has granted me the knack for organizing and planning.
So I organize and I plan.
As you are well aware, for the past four or five months I've been organizing the women's retreat along with another woman who, thankfully, has the gift of exhortation. I think we would have been up a metaphorical creek without a paddle if we'd both been exhorters or, God forbid, if we'd both been administrators. I think we worked really well as a team. I thought of details like booking a 7,000 square foot mansion of a cabin and planning the meals while she thought of important details like our quiet times and bringing Kleenex and a wee bit o' flexibility.
I planned on administrating. Being the pastor's wife and one of the two retreat organizers, I figured I'd show up, talk on Friday night, make sure everything ran smoothly and be there to provide hugs, counsel and fellowship to the women God chose to speak to. I prayed continuously for God to give me the words to say, the words that would permeate the souls of the women there, and that he would speak to them through worship, quiet time, and the other two speakers. I overlooked the part where He would speak to me.
I almost thought about the retreat as something for other people, an area I was serving in for the spiritual growth of those he called to attend. God spoke to me through my own talk. He spoke to me through the talks of others. And he certainly spoke to me through the quiet times. On Friday night I talked about Mark 4:35-41 and how we need to trust the Lord in our own storms. I talked about having faith that God will get us across the lake, whether by calming the storm or by riding it with us. By Saturday night I was broken, pruned, clay in the hands of the potter; reminded, in mighty ways, that I assuredly do not have it all figured out. When given a total of two and a half uninterrupted hours of quiet time with the Lord and when given two days away from a toddler and the demands of every day life, things become more difficult to ignore. The stressors that I've shoved in the diaper bag for safe keeping while I run from one thing to another become unavoidable. And the pastor's wife, the one with the gift of keeping things running smoothly, the one who, by design, is there to decidedly not fall apart, starts to cry. And all the things she said about trust, all the things she said about how God is taking her to the other side of the lake, all the things she thought she knew became the things that needed to permeate her soul most of all.
I think I did alright as a speaker. I think I talked too fast at the beginning but I feel confident in how I delivered the meat of the message. I wore my cute earrings and my good jeans and I probably looked like I have it mostly together. I started off feeling nervous and shaky but, after saying a quick prayer in my head as I opened my bible to read the scripture, God gave me a confidence I hardly suspected was there, lying somewhere under the surface. But by this morning I confessed that I felt like a bit of a fraud. On Friday I had talked about complete and total surrender to the Lord's will but, through the course of the weekend, I had uncovered areas of my life that remain unrelinquished.
I don't have it all figured out and by now I've learned that I never will. But I know what is promised in Philippians chapter 1, "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Like I said on Friday night, I'm still working out my faith on a daily basis. I'm still trying to understand just how big God is. I'm still trying to stop confining him to the little box I often put him in. God is still carrying out the good work began in me. And I'm still trying to figure him out.