We hope that her beautiful writing and photographs in this week's blog will encourage you to pull away and join us for the Restore Spring Retreat, March 10-11, "Awaken to the Pursuit of the Bridegroom." There are many beautiful photos throughout the blog including a slideshow of the gorgeous grounds of Solomon Episcopal Conference Center. Photos were taken by Margaret Kemp and Jennifer Leigh Spiers at our Fall Retreat. You will be able to view them better on your phone if you click to the website. Our Spring Retreat will be in the same location and we encourage you to come with another woman in your life such as a mother/daughter or daughter in law, aunt/niece, someone you mentor, or perhaps invite someone who has invested in your life. Registration is now open. We hope you will join us!
Photos below of the grounds, Bridal theme decor and teaching sessions taken by Margaret on the "Awaken" Retreat.
Then came Monday and Tuesday, delivering pain and aggravation. Earaches. Demands of the job. Difficult children. People who complained and criticized me, despite my best efforts to accommodate them and to show them the love of Christ. The entire month of October was characterized by frustration and illness.
My “Holy, Holy, Holy” changed to “Help Me, Help Me, Help Me!”
I know I’m not the only one who felt this way. I talked to other ladies returning from the retreat, and they, too, were met at the door with trials and difficulties.
Was the honeymoon over?
But the ancient Jewish wedding tradition was a little different. The prospective groom makes a marriage contract with the bride-to-be. He offers the girl a cup of wine. I imagine, if she is a willing bride, she’s dressed in her finest clothes and jewelry, batting her eyelashes and smiling coquettishly as she accepts the cup. Her acceptance of the cup signifies an acceptance of his proposal, and for legal purposes, the couple is married.
But then the groom goes away to prepare a place for his bride. And the girl remains in her parents’ home. She puts on her work clothes and performs the same mundane chores as always. Maybe the housework is dull. Maybe her siblings are difficult, or she finds her parents overbearing. But she endures all this, all the while preparing for the day when her groom will come to get her.
The preparation is sometimes a difficult process. Sanctification is a difficult process. I know that I have been chosen by God. I am redeemed from the slave market of sin—bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ. He’s cleaned me up, washed my sins away, and now I am forever His. Somehow, I expect to be instantly transformed into this beautiful creature carrying the fruit of the Spirit in a basket and strewing gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control wherever I go.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
God isn’t finished with me yet. He will continue working on His church, His bride, until the Bridegroom returns.
So- what can we do in the meantime, while we’re waiting?
Here are a few things that will lighten our load:
1. Let go of trying to live up to expectations of others. It’s impossible to please everyone anyway, so we might as well drop that ball and chain. We’re working for the Lord. We’re eager to please our Bridegroom.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23
2. Let go of comparisons. It’s counterproductive to compare ourselves to others we see as Superheroes and Heroines of Faith or to compare ourselves against the elusive standard of The Ideal Christian Woman, that Barbie doll of faith who possesses qualities we think we should have but can never seem to attain.
3. Let go of expectations we have for ourselves. Each day is a new day. We do what we can in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we mess up, we confess our sin, think of what we can do differently to prevent future mess-ups, and move forward.
“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
I John 1:9
“This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
God chose us while we were still a stinking, dirty mess---while we were yet sinners. He cleans us up, and He will do it again and again until He returns for His church and we are truly holy and blameless, clothed in His righteousness.
Our Bridegroom is a Man of His Word; He will not nullify the contract because our behavior.
God will never desert me,
Never “defriend” me,
Never divorce me,
Always defend me.
Never deny me,
Never dismiss me,
Never discard me,
Always assist me.
Scripture substantiates all these truths. (Hebrews 13:5, Jeremiah 31:13, I Thessalonians 5:24, Isaiah 41:10 Joshua 1:9, II Thessalonians 3:3, II Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 94:14, Hebrews 13:6)
- Look for the gifts He gives us while we’re in the waiting and preparing stage.
Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and enjoy the gifts He gives: a day flooded with sunshine and cooler weather, dear friends and family who encourage us and surround us with laughter, a cozy bed, a hot meal, a comfortable home...Our Bridegroom is good—all the time! And His grace is sufficient for us.
The honeymoon is not over. It hasn’t even begun. Let’s enjoy this time of waiting and preparation, accepting the trials as part of our sanctification process and embracing the ever-present joys that are ours as the Bride of Christ.
Lord Jesus, we look to You. Our hearts are bursting with gratitude for what you’ve done for us.
Help us to look up to You and to trust Your faithfulness, Your goodness, and Your sufficiency.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul,
and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:23-24
His Beloved Bride,
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