Catchy title there, huh? LOL! Well, I don't know how else to title this, but I think it's time to blog about The Encounter, so here it is.
So, what is an Encounter you ask? Well...it's just that. An Encounter with God. And it's different for everyone. For the sake of not spoiling the surprises for those who haven't attended...yet...I can't share too many details. But it is an intensely personal 3 day encounter with your Creator. It's a time to get real with yourself and God. It's a time to dig deeper and go further than you knew you could. It's a time for healing.
Let me give you a timeline of my encounter experience. Last November I decided it was the right time for me to go on The Encounter. But my sweet papaw went to be with the Lord two days before I was supposed to leave. It was not my time, and now I realize why. So many things have happened since last November. My faith has been tested and challenged, I've changed ministries in the church, and my family has been in disarray. If I ever needed to get real with God, I knew this was my time. Soooo...I signed up to go this time. I was so excited!!! Until last Wednesday. That night I think I wrestled with the devil. But by Thursday I felt better, and God gave me this verse from Psalm 62:5: "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." I felt clearly that He has great things in store for me, and I again felt like I was doing the right thing. Then Friday, leaving day, came. Ugh. I was already nervous about leaving Patrick and the girls, and around 3:15 Patrick told me about a work/babysitting dilemma. Keep in mind I had to be on the bus at 4. I almost freaked out because I am the one in the family who always solves those kind of problems! But Patrick was so sweet and reassured me that he had it under control. Have I mentioned how much I love that man???
Anyway, we arrived at Ridge Haven around 6, I think. It was time for dinner and to meet our individual group members and roommates. Within 30 minutes, I was ready to call Patrick and have him come out there to get me. It was nothing personal; I had an amazingly precious group of ladies with me. It was the enemy trying to steal what God had in store for me. I had to step outside and some of my sweet friends came out and prayed for me. I made it through the first meal without any further meltdowns. LOL!
Without telling too much, I will tell you that within 10 minutes of our meeting that evening, I was in tears. Throughout the weekend, God opened my eyes to some amazing and healing things. I truly felt like I was sitting in His lap. He showed me where I need to place my expectations. He showed me that He decided I would be in a group of strangers (who weren't strangers by the end of the weekend, but friends) so that I could be SILENT and ALONE with Him, just like that Psalm He gave me. He revealed Himself to me in mighty ways. I don't even know how to put into words what happened. It was such an intimate encounter with my Lord that I can hardly talk about it. I haven't told my husband all that happened or even my best friend. I don't know what to equate it to except my wedding day and wedding night. On that night, I just wanted to bask in my sweet husband's presence, and this weekend I just wanted to bask in the glory of the one who loves me most. Like the day I became a mother, I wanted just to look upon that face and know that He is mine and I am His.
Homecoming...I got really nervous about two miles from the church, where I knew my family was waiting. I was so happy to know I was going to see my loves, but I was afraid things would be the same old thing at home. When we walked into the sanctuary, and I saw my babies and my husband, I KNEW things would be different. God healed more than my heart this weekend. He healed my family. And His healing work continues. So if you see the Ensleys, and you think we look different, GOOD!!! We feel different. I know they'll be set backs and challenges (I wasn't born yesterday, lol), but I have a new view of the world. In the last three days I have enjoyed my husband and children more than I have in years. I've laughed more, read my bible more, sat in His presence more. I have already been challenged and tempted by worldly things, but I feel a renewed strength and purpose. I am in this world, not of it.
So since the Encounter, I have been feeling the weirdest feeling. I could not figure it out. It was utterly unknown to me. I finally got it yesterday. Guess what? It's called PEACE. The most freeing, calming, beautiful feeling in the world. A peace beyond understanding. "He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, for there were many against me." Psalm 55:18
Peace is what I've been praying diligently for for two years. Another lesson learned: Wait patiently on the Lord. :)