In the secret, in the quiet place
In the stillness You are there
In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait
Only for You
‘Cause I want to know You more
This older worship song that many of us sung when we were younger holds a beautiful truth in it: We find God in the still, quiet place and we seek Him because of our desire to know Him more. So true, and yet it is so difficult at times if you think about it. In the quiet? In the stillness? Lord, that is hard for me because my life is loud, and my life is busy! It is here that we find the beauty of women’s retreats. A time to literally leave the loud, and leave the busy and go away with an intention to meet with God, and it was this year that the mountains beckoned us and we heeded the call.
This year’s theme was “Her Dwelling Place,” and it was one of the best to date. The weekend was centered around Psalm 84, and specifically in verse 4 when the psalmist writes:
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising you. (NKJV)
Throughout the weekend we were encouraged to dwell with the Lord. Dwell is defined as: to live in a specified place, to settle in, to lodge, to move in, (and my personal favorite) to unpack. The psalmist is not speaking of a faith that we often frequent, or visit when things are hard, but he speaks of one where we unpack and settle in. Sandy MacIntosh declared it this way in her introduction on Friday evening:
“Dwelling in God’s presence should be our highest priority, our greatest goal, because it is our deepest need.”
So, I know you are thinking, “Well that is just wonderful, and I agree, but how? And what did God actually do on that mountain? And what am I to glean from this recap?” Well I am just so glad you asked! God’s presence was made known in many ways over the weekend, but here are a few just to highlight.
It is a gift to be able to worship the Lord at all, but bring together over a hundred women who are hungry for the Holy Spirit to move? There’s power in that. It was evident over the course of the weekend that the Lord knew our hunger, and our desperation for Him, and He met us during each worship session. Thoughtfully and prayerfully chosen, each song opened the hearts of the women to confess their love and their need for Him. My favorite song, a new song, that was chosen was “Great is Our God” by Young Oceans (originally by Plumb), and the chorus runs:
And we will seek Him, our rock of salvation
Morning by morning, with thanksgiving we come
And we will bow down, with creation we cry out
In daylight and darkness, we sing to the Lord
Great is our God
Great is our God
Great is our God
It tied it all back together, in that when we seek Him “morning by morning,” and bow down in humility crying “Great is our Lord,” it is then that He can truly become our dwelling place. It is then we find Him whether it is quiet, or our lives are one torrential downpour after the other. No matter our circumstances we can still praise Him. If you haven’t heard this song, give it a listen and worship the King.
The Lord has truly gifted Sandy with the ability to make us laugh, to make us think, and to make us cry. He used Sandy as a vessel to speak to His women, and thankfully we were able to record one of the sessions (glory, glory, hallelujah! Click on the link at the end of the post to hear the full teaching).
Sandy taught us about being “Surrendered,” “Set on Pilgrimage,” “Struggle,” and “The Secret Place.” We also learned she really likes S-words, as you can see here. Here are a few snippets that I loved from her teaching:
“We long for the sacred, but settle for the secular.”
“God is desperately in love with you. He is desperate for your heart, He is desperate for you, and He wants you to be desperate for Him.”
“We are so busy and broken down that it is hard for us to capture the vision God has for us.”
& my favorite…
“I love Tozer…He makes me feel like I’m not even saved!”
The first night we were there, I was able to talk to more than one woman who was facing serious spiritual warfare to get to that retreat. Sick kids, fights with a spouse, work obligations gone awry. It was clear the enemy didn’t want us to engage in this retreat. Yet, God was SO faithful to show up.
He was faithful to build friendships, to break down barriers of fear and awkwardness, and He does the work that He is set out on doing! I watched so many women create new friendships, laugh with one another, cry with one another, pray over one another, and be vulnerable with their church body. As we were created for fellowship, I saw women engaging in true relationship with one another, and it was so beautiful and heartwarming. From hiking, to games, to crocheting, to late night chats and laughter, women were being filled and refueled through fellowship with one another.
There were so many other avenues of God’s working throughout this retreat.
There were workshops, an afterglow, a prayer hike where women laid down their burdens on the mountain, meals that were shared, car rides with strangers (now friends) and so much more. In the end though, my favorite point in retreat was watching sister’s in Christ kneeling before the Lord in worship and humility. Literally, kneeling at the foot of the King. So I captured that moment with these words I wrote in my journal as I watched them worship:
“Watching women I know, fighting the unseen battles, makes me realize God is always complete in His goodness. I am so blessed to be a part of a body of women who wholeheartedly desire to be broken, empty vessels only to be filled back up by their Creator. Women humble enough to kneel, to cry, to sob, to ask for prayer. Real women seeking a real God who faithfully fulfills His promises time and time again.”
Perhaps you were a woman who was able to take part in such a beautiful weekend, or perhaps there were unseen circumstances that held you back home. I hope and pray you are encouraged that God is moving and working wherever we are. The same God who was on that mountain, beckoning us to be His dwelling place and Him ours, is the same God who is in this valley with the same invitation. May we seek Him in the quiet place, may we still our hearts before Him morning by morning, with thanksgiving, and allow Him to change us from the inside out.
By: Sarah Russler
Listen to the teaching by Sandy MacIntosh.