"All the Fitness He Requires..."

I had the unique privilege of attending City Church’s women’s retreat in January. I say it was a “unique privilege” because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to go with out-of-town commitments the weekend prior, kids with birthday parties and basketball games, and a general inclination to curl up into a ball under a blanket and sleep all winter long. Although my attendance at the retreat was a bit last-minute, in hindsight, I am deeply grateful that I was able to go.  Having the opportunity to sit and chat with friends–and both start and finish sentences which is something uncommon for any mother with young children–as well as chat with and meet new friends was such a joy! Being at Roslyn was literally a breath of fresh air for me: the change of scenery, the rolling hills, crisp winter air, and vivid blue skies were an automatic cue for me to S-L-O-W down, breathe deep, and begin to rest (save the 60 minutes of “boot camp” that left most of my leg muscles burning a firey flame for four days).  

What I found in resting that weekend was a gift of being able to lay aside the voices (mine and actual little ones in my home) of the needs; lists of things to do and left undone; the hurry and frenzy of places to be and things to plan for; the meals; the laundry; the general chaos. In a sense, I could “pause” those things, and when that happened, I felt that God gave me the gift of being able to hear His words of encouragement for me.  

During our time of teaching at the retreat, we had the opportunity to look a bit deeper at the life of Peter: It was such a relief to me to realize that quirky parts of Peter’s personality–and even his weaknesses–are the very things that Jesus desires to use in Peter for his good and His glory. This was eye-opening for me: Jesus uses my imperfections? Are you telling me that Jesus doesn’t need me to “pull it together” before He will use me for the good of His Kingdom? This is the exact opposite of what we hear each and every day from our culture. My weaknesses and vulnerabilities are actually a tool? A gift?

What a tremendous relief this sweet reminder was for me. Maybe, just maybe, I could taste a bit of freedom and, by God’s grace, not jump right back onto the treadmill of trying to “pull it together” upon stepping off of Roslyn’s rolling hills. Our speaker, Patricia Clarke, left us with an encouragement to hear and learn the voice of our Shepherd, and I couldn’t help but desire my Shepherd’s voice to outpower the voices of lists and doubts, wrongs and inadequacies, things to do and get done and do better next time. I left the weekend with this powerful sense that the very Jesus who called Peter out of his familiar and fallen boat to walk on water is the very One who calls me out of the frenzy and the lists and the cleaning and meals and homework to hear His voice, to provide me with the grace to truly trust in Him, rely on Him, and believe that He will provide for even me, she who does not have it altogether. And, what a gift and relief that would be–not only for me, but for my children and my husband and friends–if my days were no longer marked by this underlying frenzy to do more and do it better and pull it together, but if my days were marked by the voice of my Shepherd and the grace of my God.

Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream; All the fitness He requires is to feel your need of Him. This He gives you, this He gives you, ‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam
— "Come Ye Sinners" (Joseph Hart)