The second annual (and possibly last annual) Restory Conference is finished.
My friend Doctor Ralph from New Zealand reminded me of a good story today after I’d sent my prayer team a rather gloomy email about how I felt in the aftermath of Restory. (The conference actually went very well, but for whatever reason, I completed it feeling completely drained and discouraged. More on that later). He writes:
I am reminded again of the story of Elijah who had had a tremendous encounter for God on Mt Carmel. Then he became frightened and ran away. Although there was spiritual opposition, part of what happened was physical & emotional exhaustion after the climax. Similar process after delivery for many women. What I so love about this story is how the Lord was so gracious to Elijah. He didn’t rebuke him but allowed Elijah to rest, then provided food and water. Only then did he commission Elijah, after revealing his presence. Note the order here.
He continues, “I sense that there are some aspects of Elijah’s story that may resonate with yours.”
(Below is Sabina who came from France, Heidi [one of the speakers] from Mexico, me, my dear friend Patricia, and Dr. Ralph who came from NZ).
Last night my eldest daughter called me, worried. After Restory, I emotionally crashed and burned. I had poured hours and hours into that event. My heart had fully engaged. My longing to see people set free overtook me. The messages God brought to the surface were good, but deep–about people, grief, and restory after significant loss. (You can read my message notes here). But after all that exhale, after months of preparation and toil, when I breathed my last air of the event, everything seemed to fall down around me. So Sophie worried and called to rouse me from sadness. Friends gave sweet words of encouragement. My life group sent a card and a present. My mastermind group inquired and prayed. I ate far too much homemade Chex mix.
And right now, I just need food and water and rest (and probably a dose of dark chocolate). Often spiritual attack comes after significant victories and toils. I should’ve anticipated that, but, honestly, it all caught me by surprise. Have you had an experience like that? Ever walk through a dream of yours, accomplish it, then feel the heavy weight of defeat?
Despite how I feel today (I continue to battle sleeplessness and sickness), the truth is: Jesus is on the throne. He moved in and through the worship and speakers at the event. And I gave everything I had to the effort, something to be proud of. Who cares if it didn’t meet expectations? (Well, honestly, I do. Probably too much.)
Sometimes God calls us to things that, in retrospect, don’t make logical sense. Sometimes He is working in ways we cannot even imagine, and we have to have faith that He will do significant work even when we’re discouraged. Sometimes we just need to rest after a long obedience. Sometimes we have to wait until eternity’s shores to understand the why.
But in the in between times, we all have a choice. God was gracious and kind to Elijah after his victory, then crash. He offered help. And Elijah had to accept it. That’s what I need to do now, to accept the rest and restoration (and dare I say RESTORY?) He offers.
I also need to redefine success. I have to come to grips with the fact that I will never be the “it girl” speaker or author. But I can be faithful in small things, and that’s all He really asks, right?
- Make the integrity choice when no one’s looking.
- Serve the person in front of you.
- Take a moment to pray for a friend. Send a note of encouragement.
- Call that frustrated child.
- Remember that the world isn’t about you, but it’s about serving and the crazy upside down kingdom.
- Do unnoticed things with joy.
- Count your blessings even when things didn’t go the way you wanted them to. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for because we serve and love a gracious God.
I’d love to be able to drone on and on about all the victories, but that wouldn’t be honest. More honest is this: perhaps the Christian life isn’t about our personal success, but about our willingness to grow and keep taking the next step when things “fail.” Besides, only God knows the Kingdom metric. One small obedience, one dose of trust, one ounce of faith trumps all the spectacular, showy shows that we tend to equate with victory. I want to “win” at faithfulness in small things. It would be a tragedy if I won at external big things, but remained faithless in the background.
And as I think of Elijah and his stunning victory, followed by desperation so deep he wanted to die, I’m reminded that God loved him in both places. That’s a comfort for all of us, isn’t it? Whether winning or losing, joyful or depressed, succeeding or failing, God’s constant love undergirds us all.
My friend Richard emailed this week and simply wrote, “Know that you’re loved.” He reminded me that I am loved by God, and that, my friends, is the sweetest victory.