I just returned from my Ladies' Prayer Retreat. This was our 21st annual retreat and it is always the highlight of my year. Thursday a tropical depression moved in and had us "rained in" all day - we had our Bible Study sessions, ate, sang and fellowshipped... and then we had a powerful time of prayer that night. We pulled out the old "Spring Lake Hot-Seat" and four hours later could not believe how long we had been at it! I would not give anything for these prayer meetings - when we pray each other "through" - walls come down - strongholds are broken - it takes us to new dimensions in our lives. But my very favorite part of the retreat is my "alone" time with the Lord. Friday night the weather cooperated and we walked out on the beach at around 9 pm. This setting always puts things in perspective for me. The waves roar ashore - and come to a screeching halt right where GOD tells them to. I always feel as if I am sitting in the lap of my master and creator. Friday night as I stood there thanking Him for His mercy and grace in my life, I realized that less than one year ago, I stood on that same beach - praising and glorifying Him... while unknown to me - something was growing in my body that had the potential to kill me. I had no idea a cancer was forming in my breast - and surgery, radiation and sickness were the furthest thing from my mind. Nonetheless, cancer was growing. Thank God for mammograms... thank God for sonograms... thank God for surgeons and radiation oncologists... today I am healthy and whole. But what really gripped me - what I began to pray - was this: "Lord, if there is something growing in my spirit - something evil or potentially dangerous to my walk with You... then I ask you to find it - cut it out - radiate me - let Your Spirit cut, burn and remove anything You see in me that is not supposed to be there." I want to be pure and holy in His sight. I don't want anything to keep me from pleasing Him or from being able to enter into that Holy City! Bitterness, evil, grudges, prejudice, pride, vanity, resentment... SIN can never enter there!
I thought about some of the ladies that were there with me - some in very painful situations in their lives - and I realized that they were under the knife. God was removing potentially dangerous and life threatening attitudes in them. I was able to encourage them to rest in Him and allow Him to complete the process of removal!
Our Prayer Retreat is like my annual mammogram and physical. I keep a daily watch, but at least once a year, I go in for intense tests to make sure everything is OK. I have a daily prayer time and talk with the Lord - but when I set myself apart - step away from the daily interuptions and cares of life - He can show me deep things - uncover secret, hidden intents of my heart - and I have time to deal with those issues in prayer. I plan to continue to set aside a week each year - just for Him and I - to have a time of intense communion and inventory. I only wish I could do it monthly instead of annually! Oh well, one day, I'll be with Him forever - and I won't have to come back to the "real world" ever again!