I returned last evening from Wake Chapel Church’s women’s retreat. The retreat is in its 22nd year! I’ve not attended all 22, in fact, I can’t recall the number that I have. Probably somewhere between 10-12. At any rate, it is first done with excellence. Our first lady, Cheryl Wilkins and her team work tirelessly to ensure speakers that will bring forth the Word of God with clarity and boldness, right where we need as women, addressing every element of our lives. Secondly, the praise and worship is indescribable. Third, even though there is a “schedule” it is always subject to the move of the Holy Spirit. Finally, we get time to fellowship with our sisters in Christ, without the constraint of time – loving on each other, encouraging each other by multiple embraces, tears, laughter and the like. There are numerous special touches that affirm us as women warming our hearts in spaces that often have not been nurtured or attended to in a very long time. I always return excited and energized. God speaks to me during the experience, and I am all the grateful for going – no matter the opposition often positioned to keep me (and others) from attending.
I like many others may utter the words, “but this time was different.” And “different” is subjective to the person who utters the word. Allow me to join in the with the peanut gang. This time was different! The conference was phenomenal; and the rush that occurs after the benediction has been given was the same. The closing session often rendered by Mother Shirley Graham from New Jersey seals all that has been poured into us, and the presence of the Lord rests upon us. Time has often gotten away from us, and there is a demand for us to observe the contractual agreement with the venue and transition to grabbing our lunch, and making our departure home. As I left the hotel, full on what happened, but mindful of my three hour drive, it was as though my eyes were looking into a deep fog. I could not see. I wear contacts, and I did the normal tricks. I blinked, I attempted to get moisture in my eyes, I repositioned them, etc., but nothing worked. I began to thank God that my sister in Christ offered to drive to and from the retreat. It would have been impossible for me to drive in that state with limited vision. We talked the entire way home, processing the retreat, but my eyesight never changed. I was uncomfortable. I did not completely engage, because I was focused on the fact that I could not see. We reached her house safe. We unpacked the car, and I drove to home. I didn’t have a long way to go to travel, but it was difficult, because my vision was not what it should have been in order to carry out the task. I spoke to my mom letting her know we returned, but I noticed that she was excited to hear about the retreat, and I was distracted, and by then, frustrated, because of my eyesight.
When I reached home, I thanked God! I came upstairs and changed my disposable contact lenses and put new ones in. Aahhhhh! I could see! My vision was crisp and clear! Before I began to unpack and provide my dog Diamond with about 48 hours of belly rubs that I missed, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “yes you’re back from the retreat, and you cannot see things in the same way! You must have new vision to carry out what I have assigned and commanded! You can get things done the old way, but you will not be as effective unless you use the new vision that you have been given!” I stopped in my steps! I did not have a Saul to Paul conversion but I thanked God that he physically provided a tangible example to me.
Why do I share this? Well, perhaps you were a retreat attendee like me, or perhaps you were unable to attend this year; or perhaps you’ve never been to a retreat. Whatever the case, I believe this message is universal. We can choose to live in a clouded state, or we can choose to dispose of it, like I did my contacts, and instead, go higher, where the air is often thinner, but our vision is not disturbed. I was blessed to attend the retreat, or the new name, “The Gathering At The Well,” but God has the ability to provide vision wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We must be willing to see new perspectives; and just how I put new lenses in my eyes, we must take on a newness to see what is required to accomplish what we have been assigned. Our newness will minimize frustration, and enable us to fully engage in what we are supposed to do.
New vision is not predicated upon a new year. Surely we are thankful as God grants us to the point of “countdown” to a new calendar year; but God’s grace for vision can occur despite time and circumstance. In fact, your decision to ask him, and expect new vision is critically linked to someone else’s existence, ushering them into their new vision. And when you can see, through the eyes of God, you can be the extension of him on earth.