The 2015 McLean Bible Women’s Conference stealthily hovered just below my radar. It was just not gonna work for me this year. My husband was traveling all week and my first real chance to connect with him would be Friday night, so I thought the timing was bad. Maybe next year? Then this happened:
As our freakish-for-Virginia-March-snow piled up, my enthusiasm for the retreat began to grow. Hubby and I had spent all of Thursday together in snow sequester. No longer did I need more time with my “better half.” Perhaps I should endeavor to improve his “better half” — possibly at the retreat? In fact, as a formerly intrepid Boston driver, I was itching to brave the roads and get out of Dodge. I even had a special incentive — my sweet daughter-in-law accepted my last minute invitation to join me!
We were not disappointed.
God had a specific message for everyone who attended. Mine can be summed up in one word: nevertheless. That word, expounded on by Margaret Ashmore, among many other practical and powerful insights she shared, sent her to the top of my list of All-Time-Favorite speakers.
Personable and down to earth, Margaret wowed me. Not because she speaks fluent Texan. Or because she is a an accomplished artist. Or because she authored a new book on Depression. Other than the Texas accent, she did not divulge her other talents.
In fact, she kept a pretty low profile about herself. Instead of promoting herself, she launched quickly into her material. Like good sausage gravy, she judiciously peppered her talks with personal stories. But she kept the main thing — the main thing — graciously exhorting us to apply The Word to our lives, starting with one word, nevertheless.
Margaret shared that the word nevertheless is in scripture 97 times. (KJV) Here are two powerful examples:
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:4-7, NKJV)
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV)
I love this word — nevertheless. Why? Because it is a pivot point from my way to Christ’s way. It is a declaration of my choice to do what God desires, rather than what I desire. Like the times I get angry, and want to punch down my car window and point out the unfairness of the drive through line at Mickey D’s. Or defend myself when unjustly accused or get depressed because of XY or Z. Nevertheless, I will turn my eyes to Jesus, to what His word says about my situation, feed and meditate on it, and choose to obey it. I will trust in His sovereign control over all things, from minor issues to major challenges. When I declare, “nevertheless” I choose to submit to God’s reign, and that shows strength!
Here are other tidbits hastily scribbled in my notebook: (add your own favorites in the comment section)
- God has rigged the universe so that nothing — except for Him — will truly satisfy us.
- God will allow people to disappoint us so we will look up.
- Because Peter put his eyes on Jesus, he walked on the very thing that would have drowned him.
- Preach to yourself, don’t listen to yourself.
- “Nevertheless” is the turning point between feeling and faith.
- Our emotions must be the servant of our will.
- We attach ourselves to the mighty power of God when we declare, “nevertheless.”
- Practice the cross. Say “nevertheless.”
- When we shift from being the center of our own universe to God being the center, it changes everything.
- Jesus experienced the cross before He experienced the crown.
- Have a devotional life. If you’ve got time for Facebook you’ve got time to seek His face in His book.
- Start each day with the Bible. When we don’t, God isn’t disappointed with us, he is disappointed for us.
- What you look at — you become.
- God uses His word to heal our hearts.
God uses everything to show us what’s really in our hearts.
(this morning’s opportunity to practice declaring, “nevertheless!”)
by Kathy Burleson