Cathryn Rohrman is a member of the KSBC Women’s Ministry Team and recently attended The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. The elders asked her to share some takeaways from the conference for the benefit of those who were not able to attend.
Two weeks ago, I was packing my overnight bag to head to Indianapolis for The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. I journeyed with a handful of other Kossuth women and joined 8,000 other women from all 50 states and 27 different countries. I attended for the first time two years ago and marked that conference as a turning point in my faith when my desire to walk with God and study His Word became more potent. As a result, I greatly anticipated this 3-day weekend, and it did not disappoint! We were blessed with incredible worship times, outstanding speakers and workshops, and relevant resources.
The conference was entitled “Listen and Live” from the book of Deuteronomy. Keynote speakers like Jen Wilkin, Jackie Hill Perry, and John Piper highlighted the promised grace for rebel hearts, both in days of old and today. The speakers didn’t leave us in the covenant promises of the Old Testament but brought us full circle to see how Jesus is the fulfillment and “yes” to all the promises and blessings of God’s covenant (2 Cor 1:20).
Deuteronomy was voiced by Moses just before his death and before his people re-entered the Promised Land. He was leaving his people with a cry to remember their faithful and merciful God and listen to God’s call to love Him alone. In return, God promised life, the abundant life of obedience to Him. In Deuteronomy 30, Moses said,
“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live… and you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep his commandments that I command you today” (Deut 30:6, 8).
The Israelite people needed this reminder that God desires their whole-hearted affection and the promise of what God will do for them. We also need this same reminder: in Christ, we are restored and made able to love God fully and in return obey him, because our affections are for Him. Obedience to God’s commands doesn’t initiate God’s covenant; it never did, not then and not today. Rather, God softens and changes our hearts to love him and delight in him so we can “live.”
I felt the “boom” of this truth over and over again as each speaker spoke of God’s faithful mercy, love, and deliverance and our call to love Him completely. As a rule-follower, I can find happiness and peace in the framework and guide that the “Ten Commandments” offer. But leave me with the command to “Love God,” and I can get uncomfortable, because it feels less guided and structured. For me today, loving God might look like folding laundry for my family and truly delighting in the tasks that are ever before me, but tomorrow it could mean sacrificing time or resources to care for my elderly neighbor, and next year it could be trusting God in the midst of pain or hardship. But that is the difficulty and beauty of loving God: there is no set “1-2-3” for how to love God wholeheartedly. Rather, you must know God, spending time with him and in his presence, to grasp just what “loving” God can and should be. I sat humbled and encouraged to seek my greatest delight and love in God alone, and let my obedience be the fruit, not the redeeming means it was never meant to be. Isn’t that the beauty of the gospel? Both the rule-follower and rule breaker need Jesus!
To conclude the conference, we sang the well-known hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” We sang the traditional verses but also an added verse written by John Piper that spoke straight from the heart of the conference topic—Our God is merciful and has made a way for us to delight in Him, and LIVE!
“I could not love thee so blind and unfeeling;
Covenant promises fell not to me;
Then without warning, desire, or deserving;
I found my treasure, my pleasure in thee!
I have no merit to woo or delight thee;
I have no wisdom nor pow’rs to employ;
Yet in the mercy how pleased thou find’st me;
This is thy pleasure that thou art my joy!”
I can’t think there was a dry eye in the whole conference arena (at least I know I could barely see the words on the screen through my watery eyes) as we belted out the words of how faithful our God is when we are undeserving. Yet, He allows us the great pleasure to treasure and enjoy Him! How “Great is Thy Faithfulness!”
If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m already hopefully anticipating the 2020 conference… and women of Kossuth, you should be too! Between now and then, one way I look forward to growing my desire and affection for God is sitting next to you again this fall in our women’s Bible Conversation Groups. We will be offering a variety of times and locations where we can dig into God’s Word, pray together, and fellowship alongside one another.
If you would like to “Listen and Live” from the teachings from the conference, The Gospel Coalition has made the sessions available free of charge on their website. Just to get you started, here are a few sessions I enjoyed and look forward to listening to again:
- Defining the Relationship, Jackie Hill Perry
- A Matter of Life and Death, John Piper
- In His Image: Answering the Call to Reflect God’s Character, Jen Wilkin
- Heavenly Focus in Everyday Lives, Gloria Furman
- The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield