Maybe you’ve heard about the IF:Gathering, a women’s conference hosted in Austin, TX, and simulcast worldwide to over 40,000 women last weekend. Its theme: If God is real, then what?
Meant To Be
I didn’t think I’d get to go to IF:Austin. Regular tickets sold out in 42 minutes back in November, so I asked if there were any press passes. They said they would get back to me.
But as February approached with no word, I began checking out the IF:Local groups in my area and wondering how I would participate when it would require taking a vacation day. (Sometimes full-time work is a real pain. I know, I should be grateful—and I am—but, just being honest!) Then I got the email: Could I come to Austin as a member of the press?
Two weeks. 4 kids. A husband on Guard duty that weekend. A boss to convince. No roommate to share expenses with.
I hopped on Facebook to ask the world if I had any friends in Austin (save money, see a friend?). My husband saw that post as he left work and called to inquire about my plans to leave town. I explained, and we discussed the challenge of arranging childcare for 2 days. 30 minutes later he arrived home—with assurances from his parents that the kids were covered. Woah. I could kiss him (and I did).
The following day, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages contacted me to see if I was going to IF and did I want to travel together. My boss, despite having a different agenda, gave me the day off.
God could not have spoken any clearer.
Why the urgent need to go? I couldn’t exactly say.
It wasn’t the speaker lineup, because no one knew the lineup.
It wasn’t to hang out with my besties, because they couldn’t make it.
It wasn’t to crank out articles for FV, because I was going on my own time.
But God carved a path before me.
Thankfully no one pressed me to explain exactly what IF was all about. I wasn’t completely sure, myself.
What is it?
I was not alone in my difficulty describing the essence of IF. Various speakers alluded to it jokingly, but the closing speaker, Tara Jenkins
, addressed it directly. “So who had trouble explaining IF to your husband or friends?” The room collectively raised their hands.
Much like we wondered exactly “What is IF?” before the weekend started, the Israelites wandering in the desert wondered, “What is it?” when God sent manna to them. The flaky wafers fed them just enough each day, evidence that God was still with them, aware of their needs and ready to act for their benefit.
IF was spiritual manna to us that weekend. As Tara said, “Manna is blessing we can’t explain exactly, but is exactly what you need for the day you are in. That is what IF has been to us.”
Some of that manna can be found in these quotables that I am still noodling over:
Every parent knows, measuring sticks eventually become weapons. ~ Ann Voskamp
Girls can impale each other, but the sisterhood of women empowers one another. ~ Ann Voskamp
Why live in the wilderness, delivered, instead of in the promised land, free, so we can free yet another generation? ~ Christine Caine
God doesn’t just want to use you, he wants to be with you b/c he loves you. ~ Sarah Bessey
We’ve heard it said that “hurt people hurt people.” Well, free people free people! ~ Bianca Olthoff
Run yo’ race! ~ Bianca Olthoff
Your yes to God is deciding the future of many more people than just yourself. So lean in to God’s call. ~ Shelley Giglio
Calling is when your talent and your burden combine. ~ Rebekah Lyons
Jesus is either a crazy person or He is the front door to a new life. ~ Jen Hatmaker
You play your one note, and I’ll play mine, and together we’ll create a song that is freedom for the captives. ~ Jen Hatmaker
That’s some powerful stuff! To say nothing of the women who led out in this faith walk that is IF. Calling us to repentance, to unity, to acknowledging our calling, to moving forward as the hands and feet of Jesus—each of us in our own giftedness and calling—to bring the Kingdom ever closer.
Which of those exhortations is harder to do??
Which of those exhortations could be more rewarding, more fulfilling?
I’m still working through it. You might actually see more blogs from me soon!