Things I don't want to forget about IF Gathering: Austin 2015:
Arriving to Moody Theater the day before thousands of ladies were to walk through the doors, I felt such a sense of awe of God and a burden for every soul that would sit in these seats in Austin, Texas and living rooms and venues around the globe. Walking through the halls, back of house, the floor... expectancy is the only way to describe what I felt, what I think we all felt.
A year prior at IF Gathering 2014, God met me in a very pivotal way that changed my life and gave me courage to leave shame behind and tell My Story to encourage and help others. I will never forget it and I will always be so grateful for Jennie Allen for saying yes to God and for her direct words to me as I left Austin Music Hall that day.. 'Don't shrink back. You have a story that needs to be told.' From that moment forward I began to develop a bit of fierce trust that God could take the messy and make it a beautiful story that would help others. Shame and fear started to take a back seat... no longer controlling how I saw myself, my story, or my space.
From IF 2014 to IF 2015, I have seen God move like never before in my life. The regret, guilt, shame have all begun to shrink in light of God's grace, redemption, healing, and forgiveness. The balm to my healing and soul has been in learning to recognize the way GOD sees me.. not through the lense of my failure, but through the lense of the blood of Jesus and His forgiveness.
As I entered the doors of Moody Theater this year a day early, I looked up and saw thousands of empty seats. My heart began to pound for each soul that would sit in those seats.. I wondered who would walk in this year as hopeless and chained as I felt the year prior. And I began to pray... and walk the halls.. and wander through each level.. and pray. I did not want one lady to leave here having not encountered the living God.. the redeemer, restorer, rebuilder of lives and hearts.
My healing began in 2014 through the power of confession at IF Gathering and God did the most amazing thing, once again, through the power of confession at IF 2015. Toward the end, Bianca Olthoff, spoke and there was a powerful time of testimony as she asked the following.. please stand if you have prayed for a child to come back into the faith and he has ( I could have stood - God has done this in our lives), please stand if you have ever had to pray for Jesus to provide for your daily bread and he has (again, I could have stood), please stand if you or your spouse has had an affair and you have experienced reconcilation and healing in your marriage ----- heart pounding, knees weak ----I STOOD. Because GOD. I stood to be a testimony of what GOD has done. What felt so crushing this time last year, became my victory this year. And I could not, will not keep silent.
I was surprised at what happened next. I should not have been.
A lady that saw me stand found me immediately after this session. She shared her story through heavy tears and asked me to pray. I recongized her tears, her agony, her frailty... and I prayed.. we prayed. She didn't want this to be her story. I get that. I never wanted it to be mine. But God. He is the One that can do what we think is impossible. He is our redeemer, rebuilder, restorer.
I am so grateful that God loved me enough to not leave me in the pit of shame and silence. He met me last year in a tender graceful way to lead me out of it. I would have missed so much this past year. My heart beats a little faster, my being comes to life a little more every time I get to share the HOPE we have in Jesus. He CAN do ANYTHING.
All I did was stand. No words. I just stood. You see, your story matters. What God has done matters and we crave to know we are not alone in this race. What is holding you back? There is such healing and strength that comes from the power of the testimony.
May we all find boldness to seek God a little deeper, draw in a little closer.
He loves you and He is able.