Over 120 RestoWomen gathered last weekend in Middleburg to consider what it means to be mature and secure children of God. Kristen Terry led us through scripture, brain science and attachment theories to help us better understand how we view God as our parent and how we can rest secure as His children. On Friday night, Kristen guided us through an exercise recalling a memory involving a happy child. In small groups, we shared how those memories led us to consider what God might be saying to us. There were over 120 different stories, different memories, and different revelations about what it means to be a child of God over the weekend.
The recurring thread in my own story was challenging me to examine my constrained view of God and the way I constrain myself in approaching Him. How do I limit what I believe God can do, or what He cares about, or even how He cares for me? In my notes on Friday evening I reflected, “God is not contained within the box I have created for Him. He is surprising.” The words I associated with my memory were free, unleashed, or unchained.
On Saturday, as Kristen encouraged us to think about our relationships to others and our ability to develop trust, I really struggled with the word distrust. Distrust can imply a sense of suspicion and that didn’t seem fitting for the way I approach God. There have been big moments in my life when I have felt fully and completely trusting of my heavenly Father. And yet, day-to-day, am I a child of God that is fully trusting? Am I a child that climbs into the lap of my Father to tell him what I need? Am I “letting God love me?” as Kristen asked us on Sunday.
No sooner had Kristen finished her final talk when I looked down and fiddled with the ring on my right hand. It is antique ring that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, gifted to me by my mother-in-law. I have cherished this gift and have loved wearing a reminder of the generations before me. As I looked down I noticed a dark hole where the antique diamond had sat just days earlier. My heart dropped and I quickly tried to remember the last time I had seen the ring intact. I mentally began to rewind my movements. I had sat in a least 5 different chairs, I had walked to and from my room, I had scraped my plate into the trash in the dining hall after dinner, I had walked along the river and skipped rocks Saturday afternoon. There was no way I could retrace my steps of the previous two days. I leaned to the friend sitting next me and pointed to my ring. “Dear Jesus,” she said as grabbed my hand “help us find the diamond.” I snickered. Really? I am not asking God to help me find a diamond. Surely we could pray for bigger things. Just moments earlier as we prayed together, I had prayed BIG prayers. I had prayed for emotional healing and wholeness for the women in the room. Surely God has better things to do. I showed Liz the ring and she too stopped to pray, but again the skeptic in me stopped her, “we have already prayed Liz, but thanks!” I quipped.
I scurried back to my room during the break to check under the bed and in the bathroom. Nothing. I headed back in time for eucharist and scanned the gravel path as I walked. Nothing. After eucharist ended we started to say our goodbyes. As we filed out of the Stone Barn, I scooted down one of the rows of chairs and something caught my eye—the size of a crumb. There it was. Tiny and sparkling and right in front of a chair I had been sitting in on Saturday morning. The relief as I scooped up the little diamond and clutched it in my palm was not in finding what I had lost, but it was in confirmation of the truth I had been seeking all weekend— that sometimes God truly is surprising. That sometimes He loves us in ways that are small and seemingly insignificant. Those questions I had jotted in my booklet all weekend— Can I trust Him? Can I let Him love me? Yes. yes.
As we were leaving, I shared the story with Kristen. She grabbed her folder and began to read something that she hadn’t had time to share during the session. This is what she read:
Praying for Abundance
A slave feels reluctant to pray; they feel they have no right to ask, and so their prayers are modest and respectful. They spend more time asking forgiveness than they do praying for abundance.
An orphan is not reluctant to pray; they feel desperate. But their prayers feel more like begging than anything else.
But not sons; sons know who they are.
Mine were just home for Christmas; all three of them. They are young men now, out making their way in the world. And as is fitting to their stage in life, they are living on limited means. But when they come home, they get to feast. The refrigerator and pantry is theirs to pillage and they don’t have to ask permission. When we go out to dinner, there is no question that dad will take care of the bill. For they are sons—they get to live under their father’s blessing; they get to drink from the abundance of my house (Ps. 36:8).
And when the holidays were over and they packed up and left, they took with them my best shoes, my best sunglasses, some of my favorite books, climbing gear, and cigars—with my absolute pleasure and blessing. Luke was the last to go; he was hoping to pillage some of my travel gear for an upcoming trip. I said, “You are my son—everything I have is yours. Plunder as you will.”
This is how sons get to live; this is how a father feels toward his sons. – John Eldridge
The truth is I was praying like a slave, reluctantly, trying to be modest and respectful. How appropriate that one of the words I associated with my memory was unchained.
When I got home I recounted the story to my family about the lost diamond, the prayer of a few friends, and the way God answered that prayer. My child looked me in the eyes and, as children do, exclaimed, “God probably really loves you.” Indeed He does.