Last weekend I spoke to about 65 women during a retreat hosted by Wellsburg United Reformed Church at Pine Lake Christian Camp near Eldora, IA. It was wonderful to greet old friends and meet new ones in a scenic and secluded setting, drawing closer to each other and to God.
Lisa Nuiver enhanced the experience with extra personal and pleasant touches, as well as her transparency and energy in leadership. Robbyn Diamond added a professional quality with her graphic art skills and expertise. All the Wellsburg women (and their pastor) are bakers extraordinaire! And the camp staff and cook are amazing!
I gave four presentations on Soul Poems: Experiencing God in the Psalms, which is the title of book in the proposal stage. Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been blogging my way through the Psalms for a few years here. A new meditation on a psalm appears most Mondays. But it was a privilege and an honor to present a more comprehensive overview of some aspects about the Psalms.
It was also another opportunity for God to manifest his strength in my weakness. He seems to be doing that a lot lately. Some of you know that I’ve had chronic pain struggles for many years, but new physical challenges arose this winter and I was eventually diagnosed with asthma. As I prepared my presentations, my biggest concern was if I would have the strength to stand for the necessary length of time and the breath to speak.
Using an inhaler for acute symptoms had proved extremely effective in recent months, but only three weeks before the retreat I experienced back and chest pain that the inhaler did little to relieve. Immediately my mind filled with “what ifs.” What if this happened again in three weeks? What if I had that kind of pain when I was scheduled to speak? There’d be no way I could even stand up, let alone talk! Resting with heat on my back helped and the pain lessened after a few days. God blessed me with an incredible sense of peace, and the presentations finally fell into place.
On the morning of the retreat’s first day, I woke up at 3:00. Excruciating pain radiated from my left shoulder-blade into my chest. It truly felt as if a blade had been thrust into my back with the point lodged in my heart. My left arm and hand felt numb. It was the same type of pain that brought me into the emergency room last November. I rested in my recliner with heat on it, but I couldn’t stay there all day. I had to pack. Then I had to drive two hours. And at 8:00 that evening I had to give a presentation. I’d have to sleep in a strange bed and the next morning I’d have to get up and give three more.
I had no alternative but to turn it all over to God. This retreat speaking gig was his idea in the first place and I acknowledged for the umpteenth time that he was going to have to equip me for it. There was no way I could do it on my own.
He did. God’s equipping strength was manifested in my extreme weakness.