April 10, 2005

Close encounters

This past weekend I found myself surrounded by over a thousand women…..singing, eating, laughing so hard we were crying and sitting for hours on end (literally…hours…on our rear ends). It was the Arizona state Christian women’s conference put on by our denomination. We had group sessions, sitting in a huge sanctuary, listening to one of the most hilarious speakers ever….Liz Curtis Higgs. Our cheeks were sore from laughing and wet from tears after every session! It was no use trying to keep makeup in check. We had break out sessions, ranging from decorating and hospitality ideas to sessions dealing with depression and pornography addiction. There were booths and displays to see, bookstores to peruse, old friends to catch up with, coffee to drink, meals to eat at nice restaurants and one midnight run to Walmart. Several of us were complaining of joint or muscle soreness, so we ran to Walmart to get some Thera-gesic cream. It’s just like Bengay, but supposedly much more sophisticated and effective…..just as smelly though, so we were quite distinctive at the conference and in restaurants…heh.

By the second day, I was so tired of sitting on stiff chairs, being talked at by lunch time, that I went with friends to skip a session, enjoy the beautiful weather and take a turn doing the talking for a while. The conference was in Phoenix, which is beautiful in the Spring, a perfect mix of warm sun, light breeze and fragrance of flowers in the air. We returned to northern Arizona with snow falling and a biting wind blowing. It is such a weird contrast, the differing climates at such a small distance. In only two hours, you can escape the heat of the desert into the cool, high elevation of Flagstaff in summer….or in winter, you can enjoy a break in the warmth of the desert while enduring a snowy winter in the mountains. So in winter, we have conferences in Phoenix and in summer, we have camps and retreats in the mountains. You gotta love that…

Our conference leader has written several books on Bad Girls of the Bible. She does extensive research on these Bible women, women ‘with a past’, and she writes about how God found them, just as they were, showed them His love and used them in amazing ways to bring about His plan and to restore them in the process…..and how their lives can teach us so much about ours. Her story is amazing and she is a HOOT! I was totally engaged mentally in the teaching times, which is a trick for a borderline A. D. D. woman. I rarely get through an entire sermon or study time without taking a trip far away in my mind….or several small journeys at least. ;)

One of these bad women she taught about was ‘the woman at the well’ who met Jesus one day, going about her daily routine, unaware that her life was about to be changed. Throughout the study, she led us through the encounter, showing by the small, seemingly insignificant details of the story how Jesus showed her such kindness, such understanding and such deep insight. They had such a personal, intimate encounter, just the two of them, discussing water, politics, religion, sin and freedom. It is one of the rare times that a one on one encounter between someone and Jesus is recorded. (in fact the only other one I can think of is when Nicodemus came to Him by night) It makes me wonder what kind of encounter I would have if I ran into the Lord during my normal, daily routine. But we do run into Him each day…in the small lessons He shows us through the world or relationships or through His Word. He’s got stuff to talk to us about each day….as trivial and temporary as politics and religion or as deep and eternal as sin and freedom. I know I need to go to the ‘well’ more regularly each day and have a one on one with Him….to hear what He’s waiting there to discuss with me and to see what it might set me free from……

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