I was backing out of my driveway last Monday, headed to work, when the DJ on the Christian radio said, “Maybe God did some work in your life over the weekend, and if so, give us a call and share with us.”
“You have no idea, Radio Guy, ” I thought. “You. Have. No. Idea.”
I’m not one to call into a radio show, but even if I was, I’m not sure what I would say about what happened at Refine Retreat. I wondered, “What on earth?!?” as I was headed to the retreat, and now, one week after returning home, I’m still kind of asking the question, “What on earth?!?”
I did figure out why I won a ticket to the retreat. Mainly because there’s no way I would have gone otherwise. I knew it was going to be a small retreat, but it was even smaller than I was expecting, just a couple dozen women. It was so not “my thing.” Turns out I wasn’t alone. The common theme in early conversations were the same. Everyone seemed to be saying, “I’m not sure why I’m here.”
And now, after the retreat, the feelings are the same also. No one is quite sure how to explain what happened at the retreat. I can think of many things to say, but they all sound like cheesy, Christian cliches, and there was nothing cheesy or cliche about the weekend.
“I can hardly describe what happened,” I told my husband, “yet my heart just feels so filled.”
I left for the retreat early on Friday morning. I quickly remembered how much I enjoy driving, which was a good thing since I had to cover 684 miles.
Despite a drizzly rain most of the route, I had a great trip. We all ate a meal and then had our first session. Kris shared the story of how the retreat came to be, and how God orchestrated so many things. She also said she didn’t really have a “message” for the night. Only that God had given her the the words to “expect the unexpected.”
“Well, that’s good,” I thought, “since I have no idea what to expect.”
She then shared the verse Malachi 3:10
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
The context of that passage is the Israelites were not presenting their best offerings to the Lord. They were bringing blemished sacrifices to the altar and not the best as God had commanded. God wants the first fruits. Kris asked something like, “What do you need to sacrifice?”
At the close of the session Kris prayed. I don’t claim to regularly hear God speak to me, but He did during that prayer.
“Why am I here?” I begged.
“Because I love you,” He responded.
“What? That’s it? I mean, you brought me 684 miles just to say you loved me?” I argued. “Wait, why am I arguing with you? I should be saying, ‘Wow! You brought me all this way, just to say you love me! How amazing!’”
“So,” I continued, “What do I need to sacrifice? What needs to go on the altar?”
He responded, “Nothing.”
And that was it. Five words. Five words I will never forget.
God took me to Ohio to tell me, “I love you!” That’s it. There was nothing more on His agenda for the weekend. The great romancer put together an epic love story better than any viral wedding proposal video. He’s been doing it since the beginning, and He doesn’t stop. Ever.