Harvest Table

July 2016 Women's Meeting Recap and New Testimony

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I have a confession to make. Although our women’s ministry this year at Metro Life Church is studying A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, I haven’t kept up with the reading. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a great book. It’s highly recommended by every woman I know who has read it. In January, I even bought the book and started reading and saw for myself how valuable Keller’s perspective is, that of an actual shepherd, on David’s well-known Psalm. But for a handful of reasons, it wasn’t working for me to add that book study to my days so far this year.

So while I prepared to attend the latest Women’s Meeting on July 31, I wasn’t sure how I would relate to the content of the meeting. Would I be at a loss because I hadn’t done the reading?

The theme for the evening was Psalm 23:4, which Keller discusses in Chapter 7 of his book: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Several women shared stories from times in their lives when they were in “the valley.”

Lesli Slack told how God built her faith and reordered the priorities of her heart after she broke her neck as a teen and lost the dream she had held for her future.

Megan Aldridge tearfully described her son’s severe illness as a young child, her own brokenness over his suffering, and God’s miraculous faithfulness to her during that valley. She told her story to show that God hears our every prayer and He is always with us and has a purpose.

Four young sisters visiting us from The Netherlands—Zoe, Brit, Noa, and Lune Dubbelman—graciously blessed us by singing “Desert Song,” which they sang at their mother’s funeral just a year ago, as a testimony to God’s presence even in the midst of painful grieving.

Shirley Corbett led us in a close look at the wording of Psalm 23:4, distinguishing the truths of the verse from the distortions our enemy would have us believe. She pointed out that we go through the valley; we don’t stop in it or get stuck, as the devil would tell us. And she emphasized that it is the shadow of death, not death itself, because death will not touch us. God has promised us each eternal life. The important matter is where we will spend that eternity, and believers will be with God in heaven forever.

But it was Janine Warner’s story that God used to minister to me most specifically. Last August Janine was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. For a year she has endured a particularly intensive regimen of medical treatments. At one point, the side effects were so debilitating that she told Emily Jessee, “I’m done.”

I’m familiar with some of what Janine shared because my mother and five of her relatives have had the disease. My 95-year-old grandmother is a 40-year survivor! But that history makes me high risk, so my doctors monitor me closely. In fact, as I listened to Janine, I was awaiting results of my annual breast MRI, and wrestling with the worry that tries to come along with the testing every year for 12 years now, especially since the time a suspicious mass was removed.

Janine went on to explain how God was with her in the valley. So often His comfort came through people around her—through a friend and holistic medicine specialist who offered advice that improved her follow-up care immensely; through people who sent timely notes or cleaned her house, brought meals, took her out, gave financial counsel, and raised money for her bills; through Emily and Andy Jessee, who took her in and cared for her during the worst of her illness.

Janine said, “How the community served me was nothing like I’ve ever seen and it started with Emily.”

But Janine said most of all God upheld her with his very presence, “even in the middle-of-the-night moments of fear.”

Janine prayed with me at the end of the meeting. For good test results, yes, but mainly that God would give me peace in the waiting.

A week later, a nurse called to tell me I was “all clear” for another year. Praise God! That was good news, indeed. But what was even more valuable to me was the peace God did in fact give me in the waiting. When thoughts of “what if” began to plague me, He took my thoughts captive. When worry started to creep in, He reminded me of the testimonies of the women at the meeting. When I woke in the middle of the night with vague anxiety, He wrapped me in His arms until I fell back to sleep.

My trial was short compared to those of the ladies who spoke at the meeting, but the truths they shared applied to my situation, too; and just like each lady had testified, God was faithful to me as well. As Emily said, “There’s an intimacy with God that comes only in the valley.” What a blessing that He is always with us and always has a purpose.

God obviously used the women’s meeting to minister to me—even though I wasn’t current on the book reading.

So come October 30, the date of our final women’s meeting for 2016, if you haven’t been able to do the reading, don’t worry. If we gather, God will meet us!

1 Comment

Oh Leslie,
You have captured our meeting so well, but it's your transparency that affects me most. Thank you for being you! I love and respect you so much, and I thank God for this good report!
Blessings,
Debi

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