Monday, November 25, 2013

Craving Restoration and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.  Before you leave, take some time to visit a new friend.  If you decide to link up, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
I asked Jennifer Camp, our keynote speaker at this year's SDG retreat, to share with us some of the wisdom she imparted to us as well as her own reflections about the retreat.  Here she is:

Can you picture yourself as a little girl?

What were your biggest dreams then? What were you like? What did you love to do? What made your heart beat fast?

I am at the Soli Deo Gloria retreat, with Jen, and I ask my sisters to spend a few minutes writing down some of their first memories regarding their identity. 

I wonder if the truest parts of ourselves, the beauty inherent, can be uncovered, discovered anew, in the heartbeat of a little girl...before suffering...before longing...before wounding threatens to distort dreams tucked deep inside.
They spend a few minutes remembering and sharing and being brave. And I tell them:

No matter what beauty surrounds us, there is always an aching within each one of us to believe in more, isn’t there?  You may have had a joy-filled childhood, or you may have had one that has left you with wounds. These are wounds God knows better than you do, wounds only God can truly heal.

We hear that God has come to redeem us, to bring healing to our hearts, to restore us from the suffering we endure here, during our time here on earth. But do you believe it is it true--for you?

The verse that God put on Jen’s heart for this retreat was Peter’s words to Christ followers:

“Resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your [sister]hood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:9-11, ESV).

Triumph in suffering. Beauty in suffering. Restoration in suffering. Healing in suffering. Redemption in suffering.

Do you believe, sisters: our suffering, when we commit it to the the purposes of our Father, our God, will bring about our salvation? Do we believe our suffering is what we do because it is what Jesus did for us?

We will suffer, and we will be restored. We will suffer, and we will be confirmed. We will suffer, and we will be strengthened. We will suffer, and we will be established. Peter gets worked up, energized here, in these verses.  

He has known his own heart--his wishing to not suffer; his rejecting Jesus’ prophecy of His death; His denying Jesus when asked if he was, indeed, a disciple. He knows what it means to run away and try to avoid suffering, and he knows what it means to endure it, as Christ did. He knows it was through Christ’s suffering our salvation, our redemption, our restoration, our hope, exist at all.

And so, suffering, my friends, is worth it.

I have a friend whom I have yet to meet face to face. But she is a sister whom I know because through our words, our letters to one another, we share and understand each other’s hearts. And she is in pain, and she feels alone, and she knows suffering, and she endures it with a beauty and hope that bring me to tears.

Oh, I want to be like her. She suffers, and she sees Jesus’ gaze upon her. She suffers, and she knows she is not alone. She suffers, and she knows this time, this pain, will end. She suffers, and she knows who holds her and there is a future that is real.
Because sometimes, sisters, the waiting, the waiting in the suffering, can just feel too, too hard.
But it is possible.
God is here, now, in the middle of whatever you are going through. And that is, I believe, one of the reasons we gather, as sisters. We need to be reminded, simply, that He sees us; we are not alone.
Sometimes, our wounds, our fears, our suffering can be what overwhelms us. But this isn’t what God intended, for His girls, for me, for you. Right?

We are made to be awake to what God has for us.  We are made to be free to say ‘yes’ to Him and live lives of joy. We are made, sisters, to be restored.

Here is the definition of restore: return, go back to the beginning, realize the vision, the initial design, the first plans.

God asks us to let Him in a little more, let  Him peel back more of the truth that is our story, that is our heart, that is the beauty He sees that He so much wants us to realize and live out, too.

But then, sometimes--we’ve all heard that expression--life gets in the way.  We make mistakes and have deep regrets, things we want to wish away, things we would do almost anything to change. We are wounded. This life is hard, and we get bumped around a lot. A loved one dies. A relationship is strained. Trust is broken. We feel alone. We feel weak, unnoticed, uncared for, lost.

We are suffering, and we are tired. We are sad and we are weary and we know there is more. There is more. And we know we can’t fix ourselves. We can’t do this all on our own. We can’t get back on track, mend our own brokenness, find our own way.

Although we try. It would be so much easier that way, wouldn’t it? If we could just pick up our own pieces, the broken mess that we are and make ourselves all sparkly new and beautiful.  It would be so great if we could just be restored . . . brand new. . . . I know.

Here’s the thing, sisters: we can’t be restored when we are trying to hide the beauty of who we really are. And often we don’t want to reveal who we are because we don’t think we are beautiful. The wounds we carry, whether self-inflicted or imposed by others and outside circumstances, can’t be treated unless they are uncovered and exposed to light.

Our savior knows suffering. And He sees us in our suffering. He wants to be with us. He wants us to surrender it to Him. He wants to let us be healed.

What is your deepest prayer right now? What is the deepest cry of your heart? What needs to be exposed to His light? How do you need to be restored?

Jennifer is, at heart, a country girl, finding God in the middle of an almond orchard, long ago. She is married to Justin and is the mom of their three crazy kids. She is also a listener, writer and speaker, in that order.  She writes at her blog, You Are My, and is the co-founder of Gather Ministries, the new non-profit she works on with her husband. Her current favorite project is called Loop, an email devotional for women written straight from what she hears God say to her when she asks Him, "What do you have to say to your girls?" His words are her favorite things to ever scrawl down.

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  1. This is truth: "The wounds we carry, whether self-inflicted or imposed by others and outside circumstances, can’t be treated unless they are uncovered and exposed to light."

    Loved this! :)

  2. Oh, yes, I know about those wounds self-inflicted or imposed by others - and the battle to live restored - because it is a battle that requires vigilance - faith and vigilance - that in those moments I feel the most embattled - to not give up, remind myself who I am to Him - and keep my eyes on Him. You don't know how much I needed this right. this. now!

  3. The hope of restoration! God never ceases to amaze me at the power of restoration He works in our lives.

  4. beautiful song, powerful words, Jennifer C!

  5. So happy to see my beautiful friend Jennifer glad you and your friends were able to spend time with her :)

  6. lots of wisdom. I bet Jennifer was a great retreat leader.

  7. Praise God that He created each of us unique, with unique talents and dreams, and that if we trust in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart! Thanks for the lovely post & for hosting & God bless!

  8. Hi Jennifer, such a beautiful post, So blessed to read what our Lord placed upon your heart. Thank you!


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