His Victory is Ours: Women of Destiny Living a Life of Victory
During the first weekend of May, 82 ladies from several Messianic congregations on the East Coast came together in beautiful Blowing Rock, NC, for the 15th Annual Messianic Women’s Retreat, led by Miriam Nadler, head of women’s ministries at Word of Messiah, and Natalia Fomin of Hope of Israel Congregation’s Sisterhood ministry. The theme of the retreat this year was “Women of Destiny Living a Life of Victory.” For many who are going through hard circumstances, or just day to day life, it’s easy to forget, and at times it may seem outright crazy to think of ourselves as being victorious. This was a weekend of renewed perspective, as our focus was redirected again and again to the author of our victory: Yeshua!
At the opening session Friday evening, Miriam led us in worship, and introduced the theme song for the weekend, “Miriam’s song of Praise,” taken from Exodus 15:20-21, praising God for the victory He brings over all our enemies as we trust in Him. After this, Natalia blessed us with an excellent message about our triumph in Messiah, from our theme verse, 2 Corinthians 2:14: “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and displays through us the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
Natalia described how, as he wrote this verse, Paul was drawing on his knowledge of the Roman “triumphant procession” which took place when an enemy was defeated. Yeshua has truly defeated the powers and authorities of this age by His atoning sacrifice and victorious resurrection (Col. 2:15), and when we trust in Him, His victory is our victory as well. But what about our continuing struggle with sin and the defeat it brings into our lives?
One illustration Natalia shared to address this issue stuck with us the whole weekend, and helped us to grasp the truth behind it – A man who lived in the jungle came home to find a huge anaconda snake in his house. Neighbors ran to help, and one of them shot the snake in the head. At that point, the snake was defeated, but continued to wreak havoc as it thrashed around, causing more and more damage to the house before it was finally still. – Our enemy, Satan, has already been defeated, and soon his defeat will be permanent. However, in the meantime, our struggle with spiritual evil will continue as it attempts to thrash our lives. Though it may seem like the enemy is in control, we must trust that he is actually in his death throws, and live in light of this truth!
We continued to focus on our victory in Yeshua through our sessions Saturday and Sunday mornings, as Miriam shared about the first and the last songs in the Bible, both songs of victory. In each of these songs, there is one focus: the Victorious One! In the first song, the Song of Moses and Miriam, found in Exodus 15, the people of Israel, whom God had just rescued from bondage, responded in praise to Him for His powerful victory over their enemies.
In the last song, the Song of the Lamb, in Revelation 15, those who are victorious over the enemy of this world will praise God in His throne room in heaven. These people will have just been through hell on earth, many having been martyred for their faith, yet there’s nothing in their song about themselves or their bravery; every word is about God. Miriam shared that, “Self is obliterated in light of the glory of God!”
As we studied the content of these songs, we saw that focus on God also reveals the enemy for who he is. In Exodus 15:9-10, which describes how Israel’s enemies boasted before they were defeated, Miriam called us to notice the many times the words, “me” or “I,” are used. From this, she challenged us to be mindful of our focus, as the enemy can get a foothold into our lives when we begin to be focused on ourselves, through pride, or subtle low self-esteem or self-loathing. Our own flesh is the most subtle, effective pawn of the enemy, but we need not let it defeat us!
The theme of victory carried over into every part of our weekend schedule:
Each morning, we woke up to devotions led by Debbi Herts, from B’nai Avraham Congregation in VA. She led us to consider passages we knew well in a new light as they related to our life of victory in Yeshua.
On Saturday afternoon, we were incredibly blessed to hear the testimonies of five of the ladies at the retreat. Each have very different stories and life circumstances; some are Jewish and some aren’t, some came to know Yeshua at an early age and some didn’t until later, yet all have one thing in common: because of what Yeshua has done for each of them personally, they are overcomers, and have experienced His victory in their lives, which they joyfully testify to. Holly Jensen from Hope of Israel Congregation in Charlotte, NC, put into words what many were feeling as we listened to these ladies’ stories: “I was greatly encouraged by the testimonies given. It’s wonderful to hear how God has changed lives and truly made such beautiful things out of so many broken pieces!”
Throughout the weekend, we had numerous opportunities to respond in worship to the One who gives us the victory. We had many who led us in worship: Miriam and her team, joined by Teresa Thomas, a Messianic recording artist from Lynchburg, VA, as well as the members of the Hope of Israel youth band. There were also many opportunities to worship through dance, led by Debbie Bateman from Hope of Israel.
Many would agree that the biggest highlight of the weekend was the blessing experienced by being with so many other women who love the Lord and freely share His love with others. It was a breath of fresh air to spend uninterrupted time to fellowship with each other. After our group sessions together, we broke into small groups to discuss the truths we learned, and their specific applications for our lives. Kim Rogers, from Hope of Israel shares: “I think the community aspect of the retreat was really encouraging. Everybody was willing to share and pray and grow together in life, and I was just really blessed by the openness. Life is tough, but trusting in the Lord will give us our peace in victory”
Eleven of those who came on the retreat were middle and high school students, who participated in all aspects of the retreat and were there to serve as well, several of them helping to lead us in worship. Rebecca, Lauren, and Sahara, who recently celebrated their Bat Mitzvah at Hope of Israel Congregation, were thrilled to come on the retreat this year for the first time. They remarked: “It was amazing… awesome… spectacular! The theme about living victoriously was very encouraging. We loved the worship especially, and also our small group. Yes, we’ll definitely come back next year!”
In closing, we can’t talk about the retreat without mentioning the annual, much-anticipated retreat talent show, led by Laurie Taylor from Hope of Israel. Let’s just say that it was, once again, incredibly memorable!
All who came on this retreat returned home reminded that victory isn’t found through lack of problems, but in trusting Him and yielding to Him in the midst of problems, knowing the enemy is defeated. We are victorious daughters of God, headed for the throne room; on a path of victory led by Yeshua. As we look to Him, and praise Him for His victory, may we spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him to everyone around us!