The retreat took place at a camp nestled in the wooded hills of Connecticut. It was a time of reflection, of praise for our beautiful Savior, of laughter, of prayer and of growth. His presence blossomed within our hearts and rained down upon us as we came together to learn more ways to walk in His continual presence with fearless conviction. It was a time to become centered in the Spirit which resides on our soul's throne and find courage in our great God who steadies our hands and clears our vision during life's trials and tribulations.
The theme of the retreat was being a "Fearless Bride". It centered around the parable of the Ten Virgins found in the book of Matthew.
The Parable of the Ten VirginsMatthew 25:1-13
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Speaker and co-founder Brenda Jones (she founded the org with her husband, Tom Jones) was the primary speaker at the event. She compared the oil in the lamps to God's presence (Holy Spirit) within us and emphasized the need to become continually aware of His presence throughout our lives and to never let our lamps run low, and certainly not out, of oil. For when our lamps are burning bright our lights shine out God's love and compassion to all around bringing healing, love and life and His Kingdom down among us.
I took away so many insights and truths from this past weekend! I have so much to share! Before sharing a summary of some of my insights I'd like to relate the importance of the bride's veil that was taught at the retreat. Jewish tradition teaches that the husband has three obligations for his bride: 1) food 2) clothing and 3) conjugal rights. The veiling of the bride was the symbolic gesturing of clothing her and providing that material need. It also, however, meant a bit more than that. The fact that it hides the bride's face was symbolic that the groom accepted her for the inside rather than for merely her external beauty. It also meant, that when the bride has her veil on her vision is obscured and with an obscured vision the bride shows her complete faith and trust in her groom. Therefore, the veiling of the bride symbolized the husband's unconditional love for his bride and the bride's unconditional and complete trust for the groom. How beautiful is that?
The body of Christ is Christ's bride and these truths can be applied for us as well. God accepts us unconditionally, faults and all and we are, in return, called to trust completely in Him.
One line that Brenda said really stuck out for me, "Jesus is more than our Savior". Indeed He is! But sometimes I think that can be forgotten somehow. Jesus does much more than merely save us...he restores us, he comforts and heals us, he centers himself in the seats of our soul in the form of the Spirit and gives us an eternal love that is always there and waiting, eager for seeking souls to come to the door and just knock and receive His life-giving presence.
Another thing that I really appreciated was the emphasis of experience not just merely doctrine. I believe doctrine is very valuable and has its place but rings hollow if it is not accompanied by the experience of His presence within. I have to say that when I was born again, with joy, I accepted salvation and the knowledge of having a Savior but it wasn't until recently that I opened my heart up to experiencing the Spirit's presence within. I've talked much about it here on my blog-it is a transforming experience!
It was an amazing weekend and I look forward to sharing more things that I have gained from the time spent there in posts to come, but I'd say the most magnificent thing that happened was just becoming even more awakened to greater depths of my internal awareness of His presence. At times I became totally overcome by the reality of Jesus' love for me and all of God's children and creation and the fact that He is all around and in and through all that surrounds us. His abundant love and joy is always there for us to experience. All we need to do is open up with trusting hearts in complete submission to our King and He will flood us with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
I am happy to be back on my blog to connect with all of you once again! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!