• Dana L. Butler

On Responding to Him in the Waiting {and how did that retreat in CO go, anyway?}

I spent the first weekend of April with the ladies of our Colorado church family, leading worship for their women’s retreat up in the Rockies.

{Background blurb: Stan and I moved here to Kansas City from CO back in early 2008, and are currently preparing to move back there, to the Littleton/Denver area, as soon as we can sell our house here in KC. }

So our Littleton church fam flew me out to lead a weekend worth of worship up in the Rockies, and the mountains were breathtaking as always. The Lord always uses their rugged beauty to gently poke awake places in my heart I didn’t know were dormant.

But what really undid me was the way His Spirit moved, both in my depths, and in the hearts of the ladies who were present for the retreat. The way He asked me to worship and lead and engage both Him and the ladies with my heart more wide open than ever before. The way He met me right there, right in my place of weakness and vulnerability, as I stepped out in faith and obedience.

I spent the weekend with this acute sense of my heart being on the outside of my skin, instead of wrapped up inside me, hidden behind skin and rib cage. I have never felt more raw, or more aware of my weakness, or more deeply in need of holy encounter. And He has never met me more sweetly.

He wooed my heart in those few days, filled in my weak places with His strength, and gave me the {often terrifying} privilege and responsibility of allowing my response to His love to be a public one. I left my heart on the floor every single worship session. Spilled out all over guitar strings and microphone stand. Utterly exposed, yet simultaneously covered by Him.

Saturday afternoon I lay in my room at the retreat center and rested while my friend Cheryl shared with me several songs she’d written. The depth of her lyrics met my heart in places and at depths I didn’t realize I needed to be met. Needed to be seen. Her poured out heart was balm to my soul.

I was undone by the opportunity to catch up with another friend, to hear her story, to sit with her in the midst of some significant pain and grief. To simply ache with her. To love her in that place. Her trust was a profound gift.

Leading up to the weekend, I’d told my counselor that I was afraid of my nerves. Afraid I’d be so self-conscious, so nervous, that I wouldn’t be able to get out of myself enough to deeply connect with the Lord as I was leading. To lead out of that place of connectedness with His heart. {Yes, even after 13 years of leading worship, nerves are a struggle for me.}

My counselor’s gentle reminder was to bring my weakness before the Lord, asking Him to fill it. Jesus, meet me in these places where I’m weak and afraid and self-conscious. Form yourself in me right here. Right in this gap. Right in this place where I so do not have it all together.

Upon further contemplation, I realized I’d always decried my nervousness, my self-consciousness when it came to leading worship, as “not truth,” or “not scriptural.” I’d gotten super good at throwing truth like a bandaid over my heart’s weakness. Something like this: “I live before God, not before man. I worship for an audience of one. God’s opinion of my worship, of my heart, of my offering, is the only one that matters.” On and on.

I learned to make my weakness a part of my offering to Him.

And in that conference room with those 40 or so ladies and a view that was an unmissable reminder of His extravagant love, His presence was tangible. And the work He did in so many hearts was nothing short of miraculous.

Various members of our Kansas City church family, along with many of my blogging friends and of course, my husband, covered me in prayer that weekend. I felt it. Felt carried by Him. Was empowered and met by Him so sweetly. Thankful doesn’t even touch how my heart is filled.

I mentioned on my personal Facebook page that I’d cried when the airplane wheels lifted off of Colorado soil that Sunday evening after the retreat. I was excited to come home to Stan and my kiddos, but the aching over leaving that place and those people was acute.

Because if waiting is where He has us, than waiting is where He wants to reveal Himself to us, to do His work of forming Himself inside us.

So here we sit. Trying to live responsive to Him in all the waiting, however imperfectly.

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