Some of you may know that I visited the Seattle area this past weekend. Mark sent me to a women’s retreat at Beit Tikvah, our home congregation. I was excited and a bit apprehensive about it, being that it was the first time I’d ever left my big kids overnight (yes, ever!). I also had with me a heavy feeling – not in a negative way, but in a full way. I knew that the Lord had something planned for me in the retreat, but I really had no idea what.
I arrived in Seattle with Avigail on Friday night, got settled into our friends’ home (what amazing hosts they were – such a blessing!), and got a good night’s sleep. On Saturday morning, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my lovely hosts and a relaxing devotional time before making our way to BT for morning service. The speaker for the women’s retreat was Melody Green, wife of the late Keith Green (revolutionary Christian singer from the late 70s/early 80s). The theme was “No Compromise”, but I didn’t yet know what that really meant.
Throughout the weekend, Melody spoke about their lives together, their ministry, and the challenges she has gone through since his untimely death. Her main teaching text from the first day was this:
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
(Revelation 2:2-5 ESV)
I meditated on this a bit on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and didn’t quite know what to fully make of it. How to we really love God? (My immediate thought-response was “If you love me, obey my commandments.”) What works is Yeshua referring to?
On Sunday morning, her main teaching text was this:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)
This really hit home. How can it not? As a busy mom, my life is consumed by the daily details of raising children, educating them, and running a home. How often to I even take the time to give thought to all of the people around me who are needy in one way or another? When was the last time I stepped outside my comfort zone to feed someone, invite a lonely person to my home, or provide basic living essentials such as clothing to someone who needed them?
I’m not beating myself up over this – I believe that we all go through seasons that are each important for their own reason. Since we’ve moved, I’ve been in a season of reestablishing myself. I’ve been focusing on getting back to the core of who I am and how my relationship with God works. And there’s nothing wrong with taking time to do that. In fact, without that foundation, you really can’t do anything else!
But the Lord was speaking very clearly to me this weekend that this season that I’ve been in is coming to a close. It’s time to refocus a bit more on those around me. Time to reach out and share God with others, especially in practical ways. I don’t yet know how this is going to look, but it’s something I’m praying about and working through, and I’m excited to see how the Lord will be glorified in this next season!