Some people might question a conference like this one. They might think the women are a little “crazy.” There is a lot of shouting, crying, and “emotionalism.” Over a thousand women wore skirts. The women were dressed up, most had long uncut hair, and most would be perceived in society as a little “peculiar.” But as I looked around, I felt at home. This is my home. I am Pentecostal. I wear skirts, have long uncut hair, and do my hair in fanciful odd ways. I do not have the same cultural and societal expectations for beauty. My definition is different. I raise my hands, I sing loud, I cry, and I feel the presence of God. I am Pentecostal. I speak in tongues, I shout, I preach, and I believe in Jesus name baptism. I am Pentecostal! Some may not understand, but to me this is real. This is the life I have known and continue to know. I work in a multifaith setting as a chaplain, and appreciate and respect other traditions, but in the depths of my being and soul I am a born again Pentecostal. I am me. I do not need to be any other way. I do not need to go on a journey to find out if I am someone else. I already know.
MO Ladies Conference 2014
MO Ladies Conference 2014
This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the MO Ladies Conference. I left work at nearly five on Thursday, and drove two hours to Columbia, MO. It was raining, and there was an intense thunderstorm. The rain poured down on the window, and the sky was cloudy and dark. The car swayed from the strong wind. Splashes of water hit the car, and at times it felt like the car would fall off the road. Would the storm prevent me from going forward? I thought in my determined mind, “this storm will not stop me. I’m going to the service.” I prayed and thought about being in the company of other women to worship our mighty King and God. My day at work had been rather challenging. Being a hospital chaplain is emotionally draining and often difficult. I kept receiving call after call at work, and my body didn’t feel like driving two hours to the service. But I knew I needed to be there. I wanted to be there. I was longing to bask in the music, the Word, and the other elements of the service. I needed to be with my people. I needed to be with my God.
As I pulled into the parking lot, there was one spot left. It was just for me. I pulled in. I didn’t have time to change out of my work clothes. I would be accepted. It didn’t matter what I was wearing. The presence of God was inviting me into the service. I walked in to see hundreds of women. Hands were raised, hearts were open, tears were on faces, and God was dwelling with these women of faith. The music was loud, the chairs were full, and I finally found one on the edge. I looked around and saw some of my mentors and friends. I was late, but it did not matter. I was there. I had made it.
I stood on the edge at the end of the row. I raised my hands I could feel the glorious presence of God. It had been with me all day, but this was a special moment. Typically I am helping others see and enter into the presence of God as a chaplain, but in this moment others were helping me into the heavenly realm. I brought all of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. God knew where I was. God knew my name. God knew. That is what matters. God knows.
Probably, many of the women at this conference brought needs and concerns. There were tears and holy moments. Many women were looking for an answer. Many women were searching for something real. And…they found it. Or, actually, God found them. Like two magnets, God at one end, and the need at the other end, both drawing close to each other. Paul in Romans 8 said it nicely, “nothing” will keep me from the love of Jesus Christ. We do not have to be separated from God. Separation is our choice.
I arrived home late Friday evening with a renewed perspective. I had met God again, and God had given me a word. The God of the entire universe talked to me. Who am I? Who am I that the God of ALL would speak to me? I am humbled. God cares. God really cares. God really really really loves us. God is never giving up on us.
We are searching for pieces of our soul. We are hoping we can find something which satisfies the longing of our heart. It is God. We have lost part of our humanity, because of the sin we allow into our lives. We want to stand strong. We want to be free. We want to be loved. But somehow we find ourselves lacking what it takes to “commit.” In the end, it is up to us. What will we decide? Will we allow the storm of life to stop us? No. No we will not. We will stand strong, be who we are, and never give up. We are Pentecostal. We are us. Chosen. Peculiar. Just…us.
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