How can I begin to sum up our women’s retreat for you? Should I tell you about the singing, which welcomed the presence of God? How about the speakers who not only spoke truth, but also encouraged us to seek the Word on our own?
Or perhaps, maybe I can share one simple word with you.
That was the theme of our retreat. It was a reminder of who God made us to be, and how He sees us. When He looks at you, when He looks at me, He sees the love of His Son overcoming all separation and coating us in His righteousness.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
During our final session, Jacqueline Heider spoke about this very topic of being treasured. Our guiding verse for the weekend was Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” But Jacqueline took this verse in a different direction, for though God treasures us, He has also given us treasures in life.
Maybe you’re like me, and you begin to think of life’s blessings and thank Him for them. That was certainly where my thoughts first went, but Jacqueline gave us a challenge, pointing us in a different direction.
You see, the very things we see as the pages of our story we’d like to remove, are the very pages that have shaped us. They are the cracks and crevices of life that have chipped away at us until what it is left is a broken and scuffed seashell.
In preparation for the retreat, our team walked along the beach and gathered seashells along the shore.—each one a little different from the next. Some were small, others, large. Some were chipped pieces, others had holes and pores, while others had brilliant colors across their backs. This was by no means a bucket of perfect shells. And yet, they were treasures.
You see, those shells, though they were broken, if you held them up to the sunrise you would be able to see the light passing through them. They’re softer, and yet, stronger all at the same time.
For just a moment, I want you to think of that struggle you’re facing, or maybe the one you have faced. It’s that struggle which seems to define you in so many ways.
Jacqueline challenged us to view it in a different light. She said, “What if you viewed your struggle as your treasure? What if you viewed those incredibly difficult moments, mistakes or messes, as masterpieces and movements of the Spirit.“ It doesn’t make it any easier, it doesn’t make the pain disappear, but it rushes forward purpose when those hard times are used to glorify God. Then others will see something special in you—for through those cracks the Holy Spirit shines all the clearer.
As we came to a close, Jacqueline had us stand in a large circle. Over one hundred ladies waited as Jacqueline individually handed out a seashell to each woman. Not one shell looked the same as the next, just like not one woman was the same as the next. Each story so different. The wounds and scars varying from person to person, yet each held close and secure by the Father.
As we were given our shells, Jacqueline took the time to say a few words about it. Words of encouragement, words to help in the struggle, words to remind us that though we face trials, they are our treasures for they point to the Rock that is Christ, and the light shines through us. She took the time to speak to those individual struggles, the ones nearest our heart. It was wonderful, personal, painful, and beautiful.
As she walked around the room, I couldn’t help thinking of the picture she painted. Though it was a small gesture, it was a reflection of the Lord. In a crowded room, He meets with you personally. He looks at you and understands what you’ve been through. He knows that the struggles of this life have tossed you about in the waves. There are chinks in your armor, cracks, and dents, yet it is through those holes that His glory shines through.
We are His seashells. We are beautiful.
You are treasured treasure. Remember that.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:14
Women’s Ministry Assistant
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