This is a summary of how we all felt after this weekend. In the interest of full disclosure, shortly before I took this picture, I was right there in the bed with them.
This weekend I went to Living Proof Live while Darren and the girls hung out at a hotel and swam 8+ hours per day. I've pretty much been looking forward to this weekend more than Christmas. I'm not sure I've had a time in my life when I have felt more pulled, torn, weighted down, I don't even know what.
The first night of the conference opened with a video montage of these verses: Psalm 116:1-7 "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: 'O LORD, save me!' The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."
Then it ended with this photo (except with "un" in front of the title):
The next morning, the same montage was shown again at the beginning, except with these verses: Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
When I saw that I knew, as Beth said, that God Himself had invited each of us personally to this event. Between Friday and Saturday there were probably 4-5 hours of speaking and 2-3 hours of worship (interspersed), so I will boil it down to the main points Beth had. There wasn't one that did not apply to me personally:
1) God can untangle us when life's about to kill us.
2) God can untangle us when we're tangled up inside.
3) God can untangle us when our motives are in tangles.
4) The Cross has already cut the ropes of entangling sin.
5) Those untangled once can be well tangled again.
6) A grudge can entangle us where we need untangled most.
7) If destruction fails to entangle us, distraction will do its best.
8) God can make a mighty soldier out of anyone willing to get untangled.
9) Whatever tries to tangle with us, tangles with God!
Each point was supported with multiple Scriptures (I had no idea there were so many verses either using the English or the Greek/Hebrew for "entangled"). My absolute favorite part was point 8: God can make a mighty soldier out of anyone willing to get untangled. This was based on 2 Timothy 2:1-4 "Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tangled up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them."
Then she showed us 1 Peter 3:3 "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—" The term "arranging" there in the Greek is "empleko," which is the same word used in the 2 Timothy reference "tangled up." It has the inference of intertwining. So Beth called two ladies out of the audience up on stage and did their hair. She had the brushes and the clips and everything. She said she's always wanted to be a hairdresser and have Ms. Beth's House of Hair. The first woman she braided her hair. The second woman she gave a high ponytail (not without a bit of teasing and back-combing first).
In the midst of everyone laughing and cheering, she turned them around so we could see their new hairstyles--then showed us how we can't take godliness and worldliness and braid them together and wear them in our life. To be a good soldier, we need everything pulled back into one God-ponytail. It was so fantastic (though when I tried to explain this awesome illustration and truth to Darren afterwards, he said, "Could this be done using power tools instead?" Definitely a girl thing.)
We closed on Saturday afternoon with a commissioning out of Hebrews 12: 1-2 and a final segment of worship. When we got there Friday night, Beth told us that the purpose of this weekend was not to go away and say, "I'm going to try and be a better Christian," rather to get to the heart of all our various entanglements, gain some clarity, begin to throw them off, fix our eyes on Jesus, and keep running that race.
At the ending, Travis and the worship team cranked up with this one, and if they hadn't, I think I would have had to just do it myself:
All in all, more than I could have even hoped for in this weekend. I feel energized and ready to throw off some entanglements. And throw in a nap here and there, too.