Encouraged by The Shepherd

Metro Ladies’ Meeting January 31, 2016

Our January 2016 meeting was reviewed by Lesli Slack, who offers more than an ordinary recap.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m getting myself ready for the ladies’ meeting at Metro. It’s already been a rough couple of days for me. To be honest, I’d spent the majority of the day crying. It was a combination of a deepening conviction from the Lord and an ongoing self-pity as I saw my need to die to self and an utter inability to do so.

I considered not going because I felt I had already done enough soul-searching for the day, and I always have preparation to do for my busy Mondays. However, a quick recap of previous ladies’ meetings reminded me that God has been so faithful to show up and encourage!

As I enter the building with my mother and girls by my side, my heart is lightened by familiar faces and sights. The light snacks are waiting, having been prepared by those faithful women who love to serve. My friends of over 20 years are intermingled with new faces I anticipate getting to know soon. We gather in the chapel and are welcomed by Emily and announcements are made.

• Bonnie Anderson is starting a gathering of women in her home on Tuesday mornings to delve a little deeper into the book A Shepherd’s Look at the Twenty-third Psalm by Phillip Keller.
• Debi Walter talks about her women’s retreats at her cabin in North Carolina. (If you ever have a chance, GO! I’ve been twice and they are amazing!)
• Peggy Ballinger is starting a casserole ministry so the church kitchen can be supplied with frozen casseroles to meet needs at a moment’s notice.

Isn’t this awesome!? Women stepping out in the giftings and faith that God supplied, ready to share what God has so freely given them.

The beautiful voice of Allison Gilland blesses us as she leads worship. And as usual, Shirley Corbett has nuggets of wisdom as she shares how we are God’s bride and
He loves us passionately as a groom loves his bride.

Kylene Chin shares her heart as she recaps the first two chapters of Keller’s book. She shares her proclivity to wander. She wandered as a teenager as she sought pleasures outside of God. She confesses her ongoing battle to trust God as her heart wants to wander into fear and doubt. But God . . . But God is our Shepherd! This is a fact. A shepherd seeks out the wandering sheep. He cares for the sheep that can do nothing for themselves. We can trust our great Shepherd and choose to follow Him instead of fear.

As we near the end, two groups are encouraged to come forward for prayer:

• Those who know the Shepherd, but still have areas where they are not trusting,
• Those who have wandered but need to hear that they have never gone too far from His reach. His gentle voice is leading them home to repentance and freedom.

As I consider where I was on this spectrum, I see my daughter has already gone forward. I decide that praying for her is really where I need to be. What a privilege I have to seek a word from God to encourage my daughter. I am humbled that she would share her heart with me so openly and honestly. In turn, I ask her if she has a word for me. Her words are timely and spot on! Lord, I have done nothing to deserve this, but You are our Shepherd, gently caring, providing for our needs no matter how big or small!

As we head home, I am once again amazed by the Lord’s gentle but firm care for me. This evening has given me a little bit clearer picture of what God is trying to show me. His convictions are His faithfulness to my ongoing sanctification. My need to die to myself doesn’t seem as devastating as I realize this is what is going to help me love and serve my daughter, my mother, my husband, and all others so much better. He must increase, I must decrease. This is truth, this is freedom.