I will gather you…and bring you home again. ~Zephaniah 3:20, NLT
I will restore your fortunes.~ Jeremiah 29:14, Zephaniah 3:20, NLT
These were some of the phrases that the Holy Spirit gently whispered to me the morning after I arrived in Gainesville, GA over a week ago for a local missions trip for Beauty for Ashes through Adventures In Missions.
Imagine my surprise and delight when we pulled up to a magnificent lake house where we would spend the next few days being ministered to and ministering to other women, who were survivors of victimization and sexual exploitation.
Indeed, God did gather us…16 beautiful women who He had purposefully and strategically handpicked from various places, including Canada, to steal away with Him for a few days.
Women who are fearfully and wonderfully made and needed to be reminded this week how truly valuable they are to God, in spite of, because of and in the midst of their stories.
Brave women who fought through deep pain, wounds, difficult memories, brokenness and shame in order to grab a hold of and fully embrace their place of healing, restoration and the place where they always belonged…Home.
The scriptures above provided me with another perspective and new definition of what home looked like. I realized that it didn’t have to be (and often times isn’t always) a physical place.
Home, this week, was described by the women as a place that was destined, a place of friendship, sweet fellowship, unexpected community, growth, healing, renewal and rejuvenation. It was different and yet, life giving and full of flowing mercy.
It was the special place where the Lord met each of us both individually and collectively.
Not only did the Lord so tenderly commune with us each day during this time and in each session, but He truly did restore our fortunes…
Not fortunes that are defined by this world, but possessions and great treasures that are automatically ours…simply because we are His.
Fortunes that were defined as our immeasurable worth, which was sometimes forgotten, and the very honor of being known as His daughter.
In fact, “just be His daughter” were some of the last words that the manager of Beauty for Ashes spoke to us before the women we would serve arrived.
Our fortunes also included renewed hope for tomorrow, freedom to be the women God called us to be today and 15 other sisters gained, as we each walked out our own individual process of healing through drawing, prayer, worship and sharing our stories.
Never have I witnessed a group of women come together so effortlessly and “almost instantaneously”, as one of our leaders put it, in such a loving way.
We embraced each other as sisters, almost as if we had all known each other all our lives.
It was evident in how we served one another, walked alongside each other, supported and encouraged one another and ministered to each other, just by being present.
We loved on one another, danced, laughed, cried, joked around, cooked, played games and had late night chats together, all while doing the hard work God had called each of us to in our own path to healing, restoration and freedom.
We, in turn, became conduits and vessels, for our other sisters, thus channeling the same healing and freedom that was won for us on the Cross so many years ago.
What a privilege and an honor it was to partner with God in this way…echoes that will be felt in each of our lives and hearts from now until eternity when we finally gather forever with our King in our heavenly home.