IF --

January 21, 2015

IF is a powerful little word.  Two letters; infinite implications.  Early in my teaching career I taught middle school students.  I survived that and so did they.  One of the writing strategies I used in an attempt to teach them how to form a simple thesis was the "If/then statement."  If _________ , then _________.  It was pretty effective in getting their adolescent minds to think in a bigger schematic, to consider that there is often a reaction or a consequence or an outcome "if" something else happens.

When I first heard about IF: Gathering in the summer of 2013, I was immediately drawn to the concept.  That first announcement included an if/then statement from founder, Jennie Allen, "If God is real, then what?"  THEN WHAT?  Later the statement evolved; "If God is real (and we believe that He is), then we want more than anything to live like it."  This English teacher appreciated the structure of these sentences and all their implications.  Those are loaded sentences. THEN WHAT?

For me, this year, then what looks like hosting an IF: Local in my little town. Then what looks like me stepping outside my comfort zone and putting the idea out there to one friend -- one souled-out, spirit-filled red head to see if I was crazy or if she, too, felt that the women in our tiny spot on the Western side of Arkansas needed to hear from God.  Then what looks like partnering with a group of women, two I knew and four I didn't, to bring the Austin simulcast to our place. Then what looks like going out on a limb and dangling from it as I share my heart and invite women to come.  Then what looks like worrying nobody will.  Then what looks like a big smile and a YES! when another IF: Local registration comes through my email.

The thing I'm really realizing here is that then what is right now.  Right now I am anxious and nervous about putting myself in front of a group of women who have gathered at my invitation.  It is completely unsettling to me to share what we might term the good news (for lack of a better expression). I am not ashamed of the Gospel; I am ashamed of myself.  Who am I, with my tendency to accidentally (and on purpose) cuss (when appropriate, of course), to share or counsel or teach or even host a simulcast about the realness of God and what that means for our right now?  Surely I should wait until my marriage is perfected, my girls have all grown into lovely Proverbs 31 ladies, and I have followed Dave Ramsey's baby steps to achieve financial independence before I dare accept any task for which God may have called me.  But, then what and right now don't allow me to wait.  And, they won't allow you to wait either.

IF: Local was the result of outpouring of desire from women across our county.  When IF: Austin sold out last year in under 45 minutes, the leadership team seems to have understood that this gathering was an organic thing.  It grew. And it grew.  And this year there are approximately 1,000 IF: Local locations around the globe, ready and willing that women should come together (cussers and all) to sit under solid teaching about living like we believe God is real. I am privileged and blessed to be a part of bringing this gathering to my little white church in my little town.

Friends, if you're considering attending, but you aren't sure what IF is, get in touch with me.  Go to IF: Gathering and read about it.  Then, when you can't shake that feeling that you need to be there, go to IF: Alma and register.  Join us Friday at 2:00, or if you're working, come at 7:00 for the evening session and attend Saturday, too.

In the IF: Local Leader's Guide, Jennie (or maybe someone else!) penned the phrase "Simple and Pure."  That's been our theme.  We will provide some snacks and drinks for you; we'll have box lunches for purchase on Saturday.  Other than that, our decor will be simple and we pray our hearts will be pure.  We are trusting that the teaching and the presence of the Holy Spirit will be more than enough for us.

If God is real, then we want more than anything to live like it.  If that's you, too, be a part of this with us.

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