I find myself here, two weeks after what was certainly a breakthrough for my heart and mind, without having really told of my experience. Many women have already written their recaps, pouring loving words onto blogs I haven't yet visited, telling their stories. And here I stay, silent.
I still don't think I have the words to adequately explain what the Influence Conference was for me, and I don't know if I ever fully will. But I did, in the middle of the night while driving home [I flew into Portland, ME at 11:30pm and drove the 435 miles home overnight] receive a word from the Lord that was so pressing I decided to record it, right there on the highway, and I'll share those now instead of regurgitating what simply couldn't do the conference justice.
As soon as I started driving, I knew I would need something to keep me awake, and so I turned on an audiobook to hopefully keep my mind occupied and keep my eyes from drooping. [Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets, if you must know.] But then, twenty minutes ago [five hours in], the Lord came over me and said, "Turn it off. Turn that off. It isn't keeping you awake anyway. I can keep you awake -- I will keep you awake."
I turned off the noise, and I asked God what He wanted to tell me. I thought maybe this was when He wanted me to process, to discover my big takeaway from the Influence Conference, what I can be sharing about what I learned. And so I asked what He would have me take away from the conference, and then listened. I'm good at being quiet with the Lord -- whether I'm actually listening for Him closely enough is maybe another story. I wasn't hearing much.
I knew I would be safe for the remainder of my drive. An overwhelming peace came upon me -- a peace that no Harry Potter audiobook could have given me. A small animal ran out onto the road in front of me and I jammed on the brakes before He pressed on my heart, "I am greater. Nothing can separate us." He had told me I would be kept safe, and no fox would break his promise.
As the first hints of pink streaked across the sky, I asked Him why He had sent me to the Influence Conference. I asked what He wanted me to hear from the women I had listened to and encountered, the people I was privileged to sit with, heart to heart and knee to knee. I could almost feel Him cupping my face tenderly as He said, clearly and audibly, "Hear me. Listen to me."
This weekend, and through the year as part of the Influence Network, I have listened closely to these friends, put so much stock in what they're saying. He's speaking through them, using them for His glory, and I am overwhelmed at the blessings poured out over me in His words through them. But it all means nothing if I'm not listening to Him, first and foremost.
Hearing Jessi as if she was speaking only to me, saying, "the building is finished," -- profound. Profound. But it means nothing if I'm not listening to Him as He breaks into my heart to say, "you're good, Courtney. You're good. I'm doing a good work in you." Hearing Hayley tell me all the things the Father is for me and does for me, as well as the things He doesn't put me through, doesn't speak into me -- it means nothing if I'm not listening to Him speak those things into me.
It means nothing if He's not speaking to me, and if I'm not listening to Him before I listen to the other influences in my life. He has to be the number one influence.
It's not as though I went to the Influence Conference this weekend without knowing the Lord, without knowing what He wants of me, or without following His desires for me. But I think I had misplaced where I was being influenced. I know I was leaving it up to these women for God to speak through and into me, and I haven't been giving Him enough credit. I'm trying to put Him in a box yet again, saying, "Okay God, I'm ready for You to speak to me though these women. Thanks for setting it up so well that You can speak through them and into my soul."
But He can speak to me right here. In my car, by myself. Without music or a sermon or anyone else influencing me. He is my influence.
He makes me influential because He is my influence.