Anyone else feeling like we are under attack? I am referring to a spiritual attack, of course. When COVID-19 hit North America earlier this year, it was a dark time for all. Many of us find peace and joy in our faith through our fellowship with others. I found that my faith was depressed because I was being prevented from the fellowship I desired and truly needed. But, before I could begin to wallow in that depressed state, our churches responded to our need to stay connected and created a presence in our lives despite the pandemic shutdowns. Zoom meetings, Facebook Watch viewings of Bible studies, and church services began to pop up everywhere on the internet.
Now, I know that if I were a “good Christian,” my faith should never be depressed. I should have immediately responded to the issues by diving into the Word, praying and laying my cares at the foot of the cross. The only problem is, I am human. I don’t always choose the right path the first time. That being said, our God is good and strong and faithful. He knows us and he knows we sometimes need a knock at the door to help us choose the right path. For me, he did just that and it spread like ripples in a lake.
Just prior to the start of the pandemic, the Lord led me to accept a position on the board of the Eastern Region Women’s Ministry of the CLB. Our biggest job during the year is to plan the Fall Women’s Retreat at Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center. How interesting that the theme God had put on our hearts for the retreat was, Resting in God in a Restless World! Our first planning meeting of the year… cancelled. Let the battle begin! We pushed on. We scheduled all subsequent monthly meetings via Zoom. We decided early on that we would plan the in-person retreat, pray, and let God take care of the pandemic obstacle. After all, he is the one to fight the spiritual battle; our job is to have faith and trust in him.
So plan and pray we did, every month checking off another confirmed detail that would get us closer to the live, and more importantly, in-person event. As the year pushed into the summer months, the pandemic issues lightened up a little and we all “took a breath.” All our plans were set. We even arranged for our speaker to get tested before her arrival so there would be no issues preventing her from attending… unless she tested positive—but we wouldn’t even think that thought.
Flash forward to a week before the retreat. Pennsylvania, the location of Tuscarora, was added as a “red” state for those of us living in Connecticut. That included two of the four members of the board. One other board member was unable to attend as well, so we had to get creative. Everyone in the country was “Zoomed out,” tired of virtual meetings, so we had to make this work. We looked at the state regulations and learned that we could go to the retreat (because we were coordinating it), we just couldn’t stay overnight. Thankfully, Tuscarora is situated on the New Jersey border. We got on the phone and booked lodging just over the state line.
This battle turned into a juggling act. Some people who were scheduled to run retreat events had to cancel, but as they did, others swooped in ready and willing to fill in for them. If you were looking down on the situation you could see the attacker firing at us, threatening to ruin the event, and then the hand of God coming in to turn it around. Back and forth it went, right up until the first night.
The retreat was wonderful and refreshing for all who were able to attend. The speaker, Rebecca Meidinger, was terrific. The weather was warm and beautiful for November in the Northeast. The women were blessed by the fresh air, the prayer, the message, and the fellowship. We even did a bit of ax throwing! And, looking back, I was guided down the right path even though that wasn’t my first thought.
Shelley Antuña is a member of the Eastern Region Women’s Ministry board.
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