Last week I had the absolute privilege of serving at, and receiving from Tauranga’s first EquipHer conference.
Like most ‘need to be there’ moments, of course it was typically hard to get there. Isn’t that always the case though? When God wants to do something amazing in your life - the gauntlet inexplicably appears. Not so inexplicable when you understand your opponents strategy, and use those super obvious cue cards to fuel your motivation. It has the reverse effect on me and becomes like a flashing billboard that screams “YOU NEED TO BE THERE!!”. Never mind those obstacles, even if it seems too impossible. You know what?....Some things are just more important than temporary conditions. Like the wolf you choose to feed, whatever you place value on will surely be strengthened.
I could have stayed home curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself having to deal with a chemo-related infection (as if chemo wasn’t bad enough), or decide to believe that God would work some miracles in me if I would just get off my butt and let my heart lead me. And boy did He (work those miracles!). So I knew I had to be at this conference for several reasons…all of them more important than a lame hijack attempt to hold me back. I wanted to share some takeaway bites with you that I was blessed enough to receive. After all, if God was good enough to get me there the very least I could do was learn (and maybe share) a few things!
The Word that resonated with me at EquipHer was; “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” Isaiah 54:17 Translated – no weapon formed against ME (Rebecca) shall prosper, which - if I’m completely honest - challenged me a wee bit when it first hit my eardrums. The first thought that popped into my mind was 'what a stunning contradiction to my current circumstances'. At that precise moment I had a decision to make: get resentful and pout my way through the whole session (which I don’t do by the way but I’m picturing it and it looks pretty funny), OR as my favourite hoody boldly advertises; ‘suck it up princess’ and get on with what you’re there for.
My FIRST takeaway from EquipHer 2016 was this;
The bible doesn’t actually say NO WEAPON will be formed against you. Newsflash - The full stop doesn’t make an appearance until later on in the sentence, which has messed with a few interpretations and therefore created a bit of unwarranted unbelief. What the verse does do is assure us that weapons most certainly will be formed. Which isn’t cool – but it’s the truth nonetheless. There are custom designed weapons being formed against us every single day. Some of those weapons are downright dangerous, if not downright irritating (like that recent hijacking attempt). If there’s one thing we can be assured of it’s that the weapons do exist and even have our names on them, which goes a long way in explaining some of the crap things that happen to us throughout our lifetime. After all, if you’re a Christian then this is WAR! More about that here. So, corrective measures on a misinterpreted bible verse = check. Eyes wide open to the truth = check. Happy to know that weapons are being formed with my name on them? Not really but it does get better.
My SECOND takeaway follows hot on the high heels of the first and it’s a biggie;
No weapon formed against you will prosper. Obviously this was the part that messed with my understanding! Ok God…so your saying these weapons won’t prosper but have you seen the last 6 months of my life? Heck, the last 12 months even? Have you seen my shiny bald head lately, or taken a peak at my numerous angry red scars that aren’t going anywhere soon. What about that missing body part and the multiple infections that land me in hospital every other day. How about the needle tracks up my arm that make me look like a crack addict or the gaping big hole in my armpit? What about the elephant on my chest, the bloated stomach, and the line going through my arm into my heart? Not to mention the enormous pressure on my family, lifestyle, finances….and the list goes on. How does any of that (and that’s just one mountain in a full scale mountain range I’ve had to negotiate in the last 12 months) look victorious to you – let alone anyone else? It all sounds quite ridiculous really - right? Mmm well, only if you don’t have ears to hear.
The Hebrew word for Prosper is Tsalach which loosely translated means to cleave, penetrate, then advance, or ultimately to succeed. Those weapons have surely been fired, anyone can see that. And yes some may argue they have even found their mark and detonated all over my life. BUT the real question is......have they succeeded? Umm well… Am I still here? YES. Am I still praising God? YES. Am I still being who God has created me to be, and doing what God has created me to do? YES. YES. YES. I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable eternal future. So the short answer is NO. Those weapons that have been formed against me have NOT prospered, and for as long as I keep believing, following and loving God – they won’t. Case closed. And the same can be said for anyone who dares to take this posture and believe in the truth that is the word of God. Amen?
My THIRD and final takeaway was around the subject of FEAR. Now I don’t think Pastor Jemima specifically mentioned this, but what I personally learnt from that session is that the seed of fear can be just as dangerous - if not more dangerous, than the tidal wave of fear. Tidal waves you can see coming and you have an instant choice: Trust God or don’t trust God. Obviously very scary, and a bit of a make or break moment – but at least you see it coming. Right? Seeds on the other hand, can very quickly and very sneakily turn into weeds, or as the bible illustrates – tares. These tares can wrap themselves around you and weave through unseen areas of your life until even your thoughts are subtly seasoned without you consciously realising it. They can even stifle or strangle the spiritual seeds/wheat that God has planted in you if your not careful (Matt 13:24). Dangerous stuff alright!
I didn’t think I had an issue with fear in terms of my current journey, but there have been times – during my most vulnerable drug induced moments – where I’ve sobbed my heart out to God because, well, the truth is I AM scared in that moment. Those moments didn’t just come over me randomly, even though my intense reaction to them surprised me. No, those seeds were planted there purposefully by someone who wants me to loose my mind, harden my heart and abdicate my spirit-life. If it wasn’t for my default mode of turning to Daddy God, I would be a sucker for that fear and probably stress and scare myself into an early grave. The point is – its easier to get rid of seeds than full grown weeds (or tares that are so intertwined with your life that you can’t separate them). If you can relate to this, how about asking God to help you identify those seeds and do a little gardening session together. Its totally worth it I promise.
Isaiah 41:10 – Imprint this upon your heart and let it be your weapon of choice in response to those un-prosperous weapons formed against you. ‘Fear Not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’
So these were just three main takeaways for me at EquipHer 2016, although there were so many more throughout the conference. Big thanks to Equippers Church, Pastors Kathy Monk, Kirsty Green, Jemima Varughese, Esther Greenwood, and Libby Huirua for doing what you’ve been called to do and blessing me (and many others) in the process. Its easy to love God – but to step out and walk in your calling takes courage, obedience, and sacrifice. And for that I honour you.