From the beginning of time, our God has always pursued the hearts of his daughters. He has carefully woven us into being and longs to be known by us. Last month, Bayou City Women had our first Spring Branch campus GATHER. We wanted to encounter Him and build community in one of the most life-giving of ways: by opening the word, worshiping, praying, and sharing a meal together. This is a story from that night, with an invitation to our Cypress campus GATHER later this month.
I stood in the back of the worship center overwhelmingly thankful as I scanned the room of over 270 women who were gathered around tables sharing a meal, chatting, laughing, catching up with one another, and some meeting each other for the first time. Just five days before, we sat in a planning meeting and the number of women registered was 166. We thought we were asking for something big as we prayed for the Lord to bring that number to up to 200. We were expectant and had the faith that He could do that. And then He brought 270. But this isn’t about the numbers; it’s about the God who was already exceeding our expectations before the night ever began.
We believe that something changes in the atmosphere when people gather together united for Jesus and in the name of Jesus. He is glorified and lifted high and we are transformed as we encounter His presence and power. With that belief at the core of Bayou City Women, we recently had our first Spring Branch campus GATHER in our new church building. It was an evening of gathering together and sharing a meal around the table, worshipping God in both testimony and song, teaching the Word of God, and praying with and for one another.
Corlischa, our Spring Branch women’s pastor, gave a powerful message on fear. Teaching from the story of Gideon in Judges 6, she talked about how fear often leads us into a place of hiding or to create our own strategy to control a situation and protect ourselves from true vulnerability. We can too easily get comfortable being fearful, but fine. And while we may be “fine” living out of our own strategy, our fear will not only dictate what we believe about ourselves, but it will keep us from hearing the truth God is speaking over us. It will even keep us from recognizing the very presence of the One we are seeking and who is speaking the truth over us.
She posed this question before us: “What if being fearful but fine is just not good enough anymore? What if God has fire for us?” Are there places in our hearts where we might have partnered with fear, instead of letting God set our fear on fire. That evening, we were challenged to ask ourselves if there is a strategy we may be living out of or something that the Lord is asking us to set on the altar. Just as we saw in the story of Gideon, when we truly encounter God and when we hear the truth that He is speaking, it will lead us to worship. It leads us to bring our offering before Him, a sacrifice of praise. As we begin to repent of our strategies and set them on the altar and give Him the matches for the fire, we allow Him to take his rightful place on the throne as a consuming fire. Not only is He a consuming fire, but The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24). What if the opposite of fear is not just mustering up more faith, but simply receiving peace? Because peace is not the absence of fear, but the very presence of Jesus.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a night where God exceeded all expectations. Not just for the sake of exceeding expectations, but for the sake of His Great Name being glorified among us. He answered specific prayers that had been prayed over the evening in ways that I could have never imagined. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the room was evident as He lovingly convicted women and led them to confess and repent of sin, of places where they had partnered with a spirit of fear and He ushered in His peace in exchange. He broke spiritual chains and strongholds and brought forth freedom. He increased faith, restored hope, renewed passion, brought healing to brokenness, transformed us by His Word, and encouraged us to keep fighting the good fight of faith.
The next morning, as a few of us recalled the evening and told of what the Lord had done, we were filled with deep gratitude and worshipful spirits. Because when we encounter Jesus and behold His glory, the only natural response is to worship.
God did amazing things among us at GATHER, but I believe that those works are not just for special events or corporate gatherings. The God we encountered at GATHER is the same God that we encounter in our everyday moments, and we can find ourselves worshipping God on the most mundane of days. May we be aware of His presence daily and readily receive His peace. May we allow the Spirit to convict and lead us to confess areas in our lives where we are trusting in our own strategies instead of The Lord and be willing to repent. And may we continue to acknowledge His faithfulness and tell of all of His goodness.
Isaiah 63:7 “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us, yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
We are praying for our Cypress campus GATHER on March 21 and can’t wait to see what God will continue to do amongst His daughters. For details and to register, click HERE.