My husband said “go” when he heard I’d been invited by a friend to attend the IF:Gathering in Dallas. He said it could be a “game changer.” So I said yes and went.
Since I’d watched the event the past few years, I knew what to expect. Over those years my takeaways were always mixed with positives and negatives. This year was no different.
The music was beautiful and the speakers were spirit-filled. I appreciated the thoughtfulness in the preparation and execution of the event. It was orderly and well run. Friday night the tone was set, and the numerous speakers maintained the theme throughout. The content poured out of one woman after another, and in between there were various video clips. Countless brave women shared their stories and how God had met them in their journey. Their mission was clear: inspire, equip, and mobilize a generation to follow Jesus. It’s a mission of obedience and based on the numbers that were shared numerous times, God’s hand of favor is definitely upon their efforts. Many lives are being changed through God’s presence in the IF organization, and that is beautiful and good.
When I left the event on Saturday, I was worn thin from so much content that only scratched the surface of scriptures. The overall pace was rushed, the volume level high, the lights bright, and the prayers often “quick.”
What became most clear was that this wasn’t so much a “game changer” experience for me, as it was a divine affirmation that the game has changed. God has transformed me in ways that make this weekend’s experience feel hollow and empty. Does it have a place in the overall discipleship of God’s people? Absolutely. But for me, I was reminded that new wine is best not placed in old wine skins (Matthew 9:17).
As one friend shared with me, so many of the words the speakers spoke held beautiful truths and reminders. But my spirit doesn’t need beautiful reminders of truth, it needs the Truth Himself. I don’t need a surface reading of the Word, I long for substance, depth, and a settling of Word into the fibers of my being. I’m being called not to just follow and serve Jesus, but to abide in Him. Always.
Jesus continues to invite me into silence, stillness, and contemplation. He reminds me that a sip of water is different than drinking deeply of Living Water, and that eating crumbs of bread are different than feasting on the Bread of Life. He continues to impress upon my heart that true communion with Him and others will not be found in rooms filled with hundreds of people, but rather around the Table as we partake in the breaking of bread and wine. It is in that space when eyes see other eyes and ears hear the heartbeat of God in others.
The more of God doesn’t need to be orchestrated or bedazzled. The more of God comes through in remarkable, organic, and uncontrolled ways. Can it happen in meticulously planned events filled with power-house speakers? Sure. Many would attest to experiencing the more of God at IF. But imagine what might happen if God’s Spirit was given space to flow free, breathe deeply, and fill God’s people to overflowing through a slow settled pace, intertwined with silence, solitude, and communion. I believe a generation of not just Christ followers, but Christ abiders, would rise up and transform the world through the love of God, in ways that exceed our wildest dreams and hopes.