When I first saw that The Gospel Coalition was having a women’s conference in Orlando, my heart bounded for joy. My sister lives near Orlando, so with housing covered, the price became feasible. I registered and then began saving for my plane ticket by cleaning hotel rooms and waitressing on days that Doug could study at home and watch the kids. Around Christmas, my mother-in-law from Colorado offered to watch the kids during the time I would be gone – Hallelujah! God worked out so many details to get me to TGCW12 (The Gospel Coalition Women 2012).
Just the pre-conference was worth every penny. Tim & Kathy Keller, Don Carson and John Piper – for a pre-conference, mind you – spoke on topics close to their heart: “Marriage in Gospel Focus”, “Preserving the Gospel”, and “The Search for Joy and the Supremacy of God in the Gospel” respectively. Phew. And then the actual conference began.
I started crying the minute the Getty’s broke out in song and never really stop choking up all weekend. This conference was water to my soul. I was hopped up on pregnancy hormones and a $10 sandwich then overcome by the glorious vision of almost 4,000 women from countries around the world praising our One True God in unity. There was no flowery, pinky, glittery theme of love, marriage, shoes and shopping - only the Word of God taught as the holy and awesome authority on Himself. Not that they didn't completely understand women...there was ice cream! (This is my sister, Heidi. We attended together!)
The topic was “Here Is Our God: God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture”. The plenary speakers worked beautifully through the Old and New Testament with texts from Exodus 19, 1 Kings 8, Isaiah 6, Psalm 40, 2 Corinthians 12, Matthew 17:1-15; Revelation 4-5 and then Revelation 21-22. Each was stunning and each only a small glimpse of our infinitely terrifying, forgiving, holy, delivering, personal, transcendent and spectacular God - the One who has come and is coming again.
It was at the same time far to much and yet never enough. I wanted to hole up for perhaps a hundred years and ponder it all but I also wanted to hear it again and again, more and more, the Gospel of Truth. Thankfully, I can hear all the sessions again as they will be posted on TGC’s website within the next few weeks. And that means you can hear them, too, which makes me beyond joyful.
The caliber of the speakers was amazing. But even more amazing was seeing such brilliant woman glowing with Christ seeking to have His word rightly taught in a Biblical context. I think I heard “complementarian” once but in this particular case, actions spoke volumes louder than words. The men present - speakers, staff, volunteers and husbands - were displaying loving, sacrificial, servant leadership in a powerful way. The dad with the three boys, one strapped to him, one in a stroller, one at his feet, kissed his wife goodbye as she headed to one of the sessions. I told him he was a hero and he is. I promise, guys, this type of conference can only result in mutual benefit. Thank you.
Someone Twittered about all the cute pregnant women attending the conference. Oh my goodness, they were everywhere! And so were lots of babies in strollers and slings! It was gorgeous to see another future generation being raised up hearing God’s word. I’m not sure *I* was one of those cute pregnant women, but if you saw a preggo with streaky mascara and frizzy Florida hair, that would have been me. I had this daring thought of gathering all the expectant moms and those with children on stage for a group picture but, alas, I had to leave 30 minutes into Don Carson’s last session in order to catch my flight. Each time I heard a crying baby, I prayed for it. I can’t help but think I wasn’t the only one praying, either. Raising babies to love Christ is a massive eternal work.
There is so much more to say but if you're interested, the plenary session videos, audio workshops and interviews will be available on thegospelcoalition.org. May you be blessed by them as much as I was. I'll sum up with: This conference didn’t motivate me towards something to "do", but instead showed me Someone to pursue. That makes a world of difference.