In the South, we love three things: God, sweet tea, and SEC football.
PROPEL women announced they’d be visiting Jackson, MS, in their 2016 fall (or football season, as we call it) tour. My fluttering heart sank when I realized it was the same day as the Ole Miss v. LSU football game [translation: huge rivalry].
I love Jesus, so the struggle was real, but nowhere near as real as the empowering inspiration I would gain from attending the conference.
Several thousand women attended the event in our Mississippi Coliseum. The day consisted of praise music, powerful and inspiring messages, and a Q&A format panel.
This is not your normal women’s conference. The material was fresh, the speakers were relevant, and their stories were enlightening and life-awakening.
The Word was not altered or distorted, rather, amplified and brought to life. The messages rang in my ears, reverberated throughout my being as they tore down the barricades to my heart. They sank to this deep place unbeknownst to me, and my soul simply exploded with joy.
Christine Caine said “we can’t get to our destination if we don’t start where we are” and reminded us that “a real leader makes a path.”
Her words inspired me to return to my community and lead the life to which God had been calling me. I was equipped with the tools necessary to overcome my fears of rejection and ridicule.
I arrived to the event thinking that I was one of the few ladies that did not have it all together, that my struggles deemed me an outcast. Every song, every prayer, every message told me that I was indeed not an outcast. I saw that we all have struggles in our daily walks.
The speakers shared about their life journeys, how they were headed nowhere fast, one sin away from utter destruction, when God stepped in and saved them from demise. He salvaged their wreckage and recreated a new being designed to complete His good works in His great name.
I was encouraged not to focus on hoping for my circumstances to change, but to pray for God to meet me right where I was and walk me through it.
It hit me: our struggles do not make us unique, rather God’s hand in our realities makes us unique.
The highlight of my day was during Priscilla Shirer’s message. She led a special prayer time and asked us to draw imaginary circles around ourselves and pray specifically about the things inside our circles.
I was brought to my knees by the intensity of the prayer, the very awe of God in that room with so many women praying at once. The LORD was surely there; His holy presence was more tangible than humidity and denser than a morning fog. The Holy Spirit anointed my head that day; I was refreshed, redeemed, and renewed.
Yet, I still needed an answer to a months-old prayer I’d had for direction, specifically if a seminary degree was necessary to be effective in ministry. In His perfect and bizarre timing, God delivered my answer the next week in a Facebook message - no lie - from a schoolmate sitting several rows back. She wrestled with the internal debate of sharing with me these words that were so heavy on her heart. She could not deny their validity and source. Through tears I read her words. The stern voice of God punctured my prideful soul as He affirmed that I am indeed quite effective in my duel work of healthcare and ministry. I saw the importance of Christian presence in our secular world.
I recalled the wise words of Priscilla: “God gives us the ability to match the responsibility He calls us to.”
This event was the most powerful experience of my year. I realized I no longer needed to search for my place and my purpose, rather just live out God’s calling right where I was. He had already set my place and my purpose before me. A month later, I began writing my blog and expanded the women’s ministry I was already leading.
I arrived at the PROPEL women conference with a troubled mind and a hungry heart, unsure of my place and purpose; I left the event with a peaceful mind and a joyful heart, certain of my strength and worth in Christ.
Just go. You will not regret it!
Elizabeth Koestler is a Mississippi native who is passionate about connecting Christians and teaching the truth by redefining a woman’s worth as one in Christ. When not working in healthcare, she spends her days writing and leading women’s ministry groups. You may connect with her on elizabethgwin.com.