Tomorrow I am leading a women’s one-day retreat seminar (local; no travel!). I’m packing my normal weekend retreat presentations into one very full day. I’m praying the discussion groups in the shortened format will still be effective and bless the women who are participating.
I always enjoy leading women retreats. I come away blessed by the women I meet. I’m amazed how God uses my personal life stories and the books I write to touch others. It’s a humbling experience.
My first Christian novel, The Forgiving Hour, deals with the difficult and all-too-common subject of adultery and the need for the injured party to forgive the spouse and the other party involved. I experienced this very thing more than 25 years ago when God called me to forgive "the other woman," and when I speak about it at groups, I almost always end up praying for at least one woman whose husband has cheated on her in the past or who is currently cheating on her or who has recently left her for another woman. I know their pain and I have shed those same tears.
Four or five years ago, I signed books with Francine Rivers and Liz Curtis Higgs at a one-day retreat where Liz was presenting her Bad Girls of the Bible seminar. A pretty twenty-something woman approached me and asked what my book (The Forgiving Hour) was about. For some reason (for God’s reason, though I didn’t know it at the time), I gave her a totally different, more detailed description than I normally gave. She thanked me and walked away. I kept wondering why I’d said what I said. About ten minutes later, this young woman returned. She was crying and trying to speak but I couldn’t understand her over the voices of the crowd of women in the area where the signing took place. Finally, I asked her if she would like to join me over in a corner and let me pray for her. She nodded and sobbed harder. I had no idea why she was crying, but I figured she needed prayer. So off to the corner we went.
I held her and let her cry and prayed for her. Finally, in a choking voice, she told me she came to that seminar in Boise from California at the invitation of a friend. She came to find out which bad girl of the Bible she was. Then she said maybe that wasn’t why God brought her to Boise. She thought perhaps it was to find out about my book, to buy it and read it. You see, she told me, she was "the other woman." She’d had an affair with her best friend’s husband. Now she wondered if God could forgive her, not to mention if her best friend could ever forgive her.
And as I prayed for her, as I shared God’s love and grace with her, I saw a spark of hope ignite in her eyes, a revelation of truth. I saw once again how God took the evil the enemy plotted against me two decades before and He turned it to good by allowing me to comfort another.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep." ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35-39, NLT)
In the grip of His grace,