2014 Fall Tanzania Retreat | Stories

I woke up this morning and walked straight to the edge of the Indian Ocean, facing toward the sunrise. Life was already awake and active–egrets in black and white flashing their necks into the water and coming up with tasty morsels. Brilliant white flocks with their flashing wings dive-bombing for their breakfasts. A large, red crab stirring up sand. And there was I, a tiny human, somehow able to think and know that there is a Creator, a Lover, a Source that all these other creatures relied on with complete oblivion and abandon. And so I allowed myself to be refreshed for a few moments in the water before heading in for a day of meetings at Thrive Tanzania.

And there was God again, right in the midst of the 60 women who had gathered to listen to Peg Forrest’s speech. She spoke THE story, the one that is true of every one of us. The story of humans longing for something we don’t understand, and so pretending and acting as if we are good and moral–until that doesn’t work. And then trying out the opposite–tasting the fruit of the knowledge of evil as well as good. And finding that doesn’t bring wholeness either. And then getting to rest–where it’s OK to just be a faulty, sinful, completely loved person. A person who is so ordinary that she can be filled finally with love and the power from God to truly join him in His story.

As she spoke the details of her story, I recognized my own story in it. My story was also one of striving and pushing and working to be the best… until that got too exhausting. And once I had also tried disillusionment and unbelief, I was also swept up by this mysterious love that goes beyond understanding. The details of our stories were different, but THE story is the same.

And so, as nine of us shared around our table what we had taken from Peg’s talk, we were able to shed tears and share comfort and recognize one another. There were no perfect, moral superhumans at our table. But there were very deeply loved and sinful women who could create a space where we could each receive a little more truth and a little more grace from the Father who is upholding each one of us.

Christi Byerly | Retreat Attendee
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