This past weekend I drove 1200+ miles round trip to Suzie Eller’s “Come With Me Launch Party & Retreat” at a ranch in northeast Oklahoma on the OK/AR stateline. I knew no one. Not a soul.
Earlier this summer, Satan tried to sabotage this trip. “You have no business being there. You don’t belong.” He even gave me the perfect excuse to cancel, but this deep tug continued pulling on my heart. A longing birthed deep within my soul resisted and wrestled Satan. That was Jesus’ invitation, “Follow me, Monica.” Five weeks out, a calming peace laden with rushes of adrenaline conquered Satan’s taunting.
With the weekend now in my rear view mirror, was the retreat worth driving all those miles? YOU BET!
I discovered a tribe of precious, Jesus-loving gals who welcomed me, encouraged me, and inspired me to pursue holy boldness. When a newly-found sister in Christ extended a right now invitation to go canoeing, my mind chose the safe route, “Stay onshore,” but my heart longed to try. “Yes, let’s do this!”
This picture captures the hilarious comedy that unfolded. Uncontrollable laughter to the point of tears coupled with hugs standing waist deep in the water forged a forever friendship. A friendship standing shoulder to shoulder walking with Jesus. Encouraging one another to pursue that holy boldness.
While some may see failure in this picture, I see victory.
You see, my friends, I experienced a shift in heart perspective at this retreat. For over two years, I’ve been participating in online training for Christian writing, but I dared not share that with anyone but my inner circle. I’ve had a lifelong dream to write, but I dared not say that out loud. This weekend, I intended to simply “soak up,” but Jesus whispered, “No, Monica, it’s time to stand up.”
Suzie’s opening message Friday evening encouraged us to focus on the right now invitations. She urged us to create sacred space to be alone with Jesus and just listen. Listen for those right now invitations because they are based on the love of our Father in heaven and what Jesus sees in us that we do not. What Jesus sees in me that I do not.
As I drove to the retreat, I had prayed fervently for the courage to just be myself. No façade. No walls. “Lord, just let me be me.”
Over the weekend, I exposed vulnerabilities, shared dreams, and found new friends that “get me.” Surrounded by these new friends, Jesus showed me things He sees in me that I did not. Encouraged by these new friends, I heard Jesus’ right now invitation.
Boldness replaced my meekness. Empowerment destroyed my doubt. As I drove away in silence on Sunday, my heart shifted and I shouted, “Yes, Jesus!”