There are some places on this planet that should be safe. A mother’s womb should be a safe place. A child’s bed should be a safe place. Families should be safe and so should churches. Unfortunately many are not. So many of the tragic stories I hear at women’s retreats are tales of violation of one or more of these sanctuaries. The natural response of the human heart to repeated betrayals of trust is to withdraw from relationship, the scene of so many crimes of the heart. There is something tragic about a group women, many of whom are in a self-imposed exile, converging to try to grow in their relationship with God from their place of isolation.
I once spoke to the combined women’s groups of two Churches. Everyone looked pretty “put together” but my experience has taught me that appearances can be deceiving. Saturday night I spoke on God’s desire for us to be plugged into relationship with Him AND His body. That in fact, we can’t be all He wants us to be unless we are. We also become targets for our enemy, who, like a predator in the wild, targets those who drift from the herd. I concluded my talk by showing a video, filmed on a South African Safari. It shows a baby Water Buffalo wandering from the herd and being attacked by a pride of lions who are later joined by a crocodile. The tug of war is on, but the pride of lions win the prize. Then amazingly, the herd of water buffalo returns. They surround and fight off the lions. Almost unbelievably, the calf survives and is saved and enveloped by the security of the herd.
After showing the video, I gave the women some time to choose someone to share their secret struggles with. I was so encouraged to see many groups of two or three women taking walks together, talking and praying together; becoming that safe place for one another that we all need to reach our God-given potential. Seeing so many women choose community over isolation, taking the risk of trusting again so that they can grow to be like Christ in community with one another was mountaintop moment for me.