Friday, November 12, 2010

Women's Retreat (Part 1)

Last weekend, I went on a women’s retreat where the featured speaker was Dee Brestin, a Christian author who focuses on Bible studies for women.  She is the mother of lady in our small group.  Anyway, this retreat blessed me SO much and I wanted to share what I learned.  It’s a lot, so I’ll write it in two parts.  J  

The retreat’s focus was women’s friendships, based on Dee Brestin’s book The Friendships of Women, which I’d highly recommend to anyone!  Her writing and wisdom certainly apply to women of all ages.  She first outlined the unique ways men and women are wired.  Because of the way we (as women) are wired, we innately desire and seek out more intimate relationships with other women.  Men generally do not seek out intimate relationships with other men.  She pointed out, as a side note, that men who are perhaps more spiritually mature will often be able to name 1 or 2 other men with whom they feel comfortable sharing deep concerns – Jesus was close to others and he valued intimate relationships.  I agree with her – I always notice when a man seems to care deeply about the concerns of others because he sticks it out in our macho-man society and seems to represent Jesus a little more clearly.  Anyway, you can read the book if you want all the scientific details of how men and women are wired differently and the impact on our friendships.  Otherwise, take my word for it and let’s move on.  

Dee spent the majority of the morning session focusing on the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1).  Main principles:
-       Elizabeth was Mary’s mentor.  She gave the best definition of a mentor I’d ever heard (for which she credits someone else).  A mentor is like the car in front of you in a blizzard.  When you are driving in a blizzard and can’t see the street or road lines, you can follow the tail lights of the car in front of you to safety.  A mentor is someone who is going where you want to go and doing it well a few years ahead of you.  It is much wiser, she noted, to run to a mentor instead of a peer, who has no idea where to go next usually.
-       Mary went to Elizabeth’s house when Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist and Mary had become supernaturally pregnant with the baby who would be the Messiah.  Imagine Mary on foot 70 miles to see Elizabeth.  Might she be thinking did that really happen?  Did an angel just tell me I’d be pregnant?  When Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, before Mary could say anything, Elizabeth began prophecying over Mary.  How encouraging to Mary!  In an age of technology, it hadn’t really occurred to me that Elizabeth wouldn’t have known about Mary except by the Holy Spirit.
-       Elizabeth affirmed Mary’s faith and character – “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”  These are the types of affirmations we, as Christian women, need to give to our friends. 
-       Mary knew scripture, evident in her famous Magnificat where she quotes 4 different Psalms.  Even as a young teenager, she had the psalms etched into her heart, so that as she prayed, the verses poured out.  Jesus said “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  What if the Word of God was overflowing in our hearts so much that it came out all the time?  Dee quoted Bonheuffer (a young pastor who stood up to Hitler which eventually cost him his life – about which there is a new biography) who said, “It is a dangerous error among Christians to think the soul can pray by itself.”  Wow.  Convicting.  There is immense power when one prays God’s Word to Him.  Lord, this is what you promised and I believe it.  That is how I should be praying.

To be continued...
- Ren