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Earlier this month, I was part of a large women’s gathering in the capital city of Virginia. I wasn’t just an attendee, but had been on the 10-women planning team for several months, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all possible. It’s been several days since the event ended, and I’m still amazed at how incredible the experience was. 900 women gathered together in a hotel ballroom for worship, teaching, and a lot of goofy fun, and I don’t think a single one of them left unchanged.
Having been so absorbed in the logistics and planning, it was thrilling to see it all actually happening like we had dreamt of for so long. It was real! It was happening! We did it! In reflecting on the weekend as a whole, I realized how encouraging it is to be involved in Christian community, how humbling it is to serve, and how grateful I am for the freedom to gather and worship with other believers.
Here are a few things I took away from our women’s gathering:
1. Women are powerful.
With the exception of the set builders and tech team at the actual event, every single element of our conference from start to finish was handled by a woman. It was no small feat, but dozens of women rose to the occasion to use their strengths and serve to make it happen. So often, we see men in the powerful leadership roles (like our President, most of our pastors, a majority of corporate CEOs, etc), but this weekend reminded me of the power women hold. We are no less gifted, capable, or qualified, and seeing so many ladies shine in their roles was encouraging to me. We called our event un/defined gathering, and to me, that means each woman came through those doors and shed all the labels that might ordinarily limit or restrict or define them. Each woman was there not as a wife or a mother or a businesswoman or a teacher or anything else-- they were just there as women. Brave, beautiful, alive, strong, powerful women.
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2. 900 voices joining together in worship sounds a lot like heaven.
I obviously have no clue what heaven is like, but as hundreds of women sang out, “You’re a good, good Father, and I’m loved by You,” I couldn’t help but think it felt a lot like a slice of heaven. I just imagined millions of voices adding to our chorus, hearts surrendered and hands raised in praise of our King, and it brought tears to my eyes. What a glorious picture.
3. A servant heart is a beautiful heart.
From the minute I got to the hotel where we were having our event, a seven-year-old girl was at my side. I didn’t know her, and the event wasn’t even for her, but she was there, her parents helping as volunteers, and she wanted to help. There wasn’t even much for her to do, but she was right there, eager and ready. Dozens of volunteers also joined in, showing up early and staying late, running around and setting up chairs, refilling water pitchers and setting out lunch boxes, sacrificing their time to serve others. Each one of them did so without complaining, without needing to be noticed, just humbly doing whatever needed to be done to ensure that everyone else would have the best weekend possible. It reminded me that I should have a heart like that every day, not just for special occasions like a women’s conference. Jesus showed us the perfect example of how to love and serve our neighbors, and I want to carry that out better in my daily life.
4. Seeing people live out their calling is stunning.
From my friend Paige who led worship in such a heartfelt and holy way, to my friend Nicole who headlined the event as our engaging, hilarious, brilliantly wise speaker, to each volunteer in their unique role, I loved seeing each woman so evidently do the very things they were gifted and called to do. It’s always been one of my very favorite things to hear people talk about what they’re passionate about, but seeing those things in action? So, so good.
5. What Jesus did on this earth is just as relevant and powerful two thousand years later.
Nicole Unice did an amazing job teaching through a few passages in John, and as she did, I kept thinking about how relevant the stories still are today. We can all imagine how wild it would be to be a woman with a rough past just trying to get the chores done, when a total stranger comes up to you, acknowledges your presence to ask you a question, and then somehow knows about everything you’ve been through. What?! Sure, we don’t draw our waters from wells, and the roles of women in society have evolved dramatically since then, but the shock of that story and the gift of life that Jesus offers still impact us today. We can still understand the power of forgiveness and how life-changing true freedom is, even though the stories like we read about in John happened thousands of years ago.
6. Other people want what we as believers have.
I found it so funny that many of the men on staff at our church came just to drop by and catch a few minutes of our event. I laughed when I saw them standing at the back of the room, because it reminded me that things like this are so different than things in the world around us, and it makes them so attractive. 900 women rarely hang out together, laughing and dancing and singing and making new friends. Even in the church, other people (like those men) see that something different and something meaningful is happening, and they want to catch a glimpse of it. Non-believers see the difference in women who know the Lord and have been changed by His love, and it’s attractive because it’s so unlike anything the world offers.
It’s not every weekend that something like this event will take place, but I’m so grateful that it happened. I wish every one of you could have been there to hear what we heard and experience what we experienced, but I eagerly await the day that every one of us believers will gather together in heaven with unending praise that will far outweigh and magnify all the beauty of this weekend of worship. What a gift it is to have experiences on earth that give us glimpses of the glory that’s to come!
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Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com.
Photos courtesy of Nicki Metcalf Photography.