ESST retreat is always an extra special weekend because it’s all about ‘being together’ – having fun together, building community, and spending time in God’s presence together.

It was a privilege to be staying at Netherurd House in the beautiful Scottish Borders, which this year was made even more beautiful by the covering of fresh snow that had fallen just before we arrived. This picturesque setting provided us with opportunities to have fun in the snow and to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. The snowy scenes and freezing temperatures outside were very much appreciated and enjoyed by most, but in contrast to this an atmosphere of warmth inside was equally inviting and beautiful. There were some precious moments spent relaxing together around the open fire, times of listening to and telling life stories, times of sharing about our ESST journey together, and times to give and receive encouraging prophetic words. There is something very beautiful about spending quality time with like-minded people who encourage and champion each other on in their life journey together.

However, as good as these things were, the ultimate highlight of retreat for me was having extended times of worship and receiving incredible teaching from Tim and Sue Eldridge. Nothing else compares with encountering God and spending time in His presence. It’s in these times of encounter, when we become so aware of His presence and are captured by His love and affection, that we are undone and changed forever.

I was particularly impacted by one of Sue’s inspiring talks about how to become the ‘BEST ME I can be’. Sadly, many of us fail to see the immense value God has placed on who were are and who He has created us to be. Instead of embracing the truth of what God says about us, too often we listen to the lies of the enemy, devaluing ourselves, comparing ourselves to others, and often thinking of ourselves as inferior or never good enough. But this is not how God wants us to live, He want us to discover the truth that we are uniquely created by Him and uniquely loved by Him. When we discover and embrace this truth it will change how we live. We can learn to value who we are when we realise that ‘our uniqueness actually makes us priceless’. Sue challenged us with this quote “Be yourself, because an original is worth more than a copy.”

God invites us to discover the truth of who He is and who we are in Him. He wants us to live out of our true identity as His beloved sons and daughters, each one with a unique purpose and destiny. It’s time for us to let go of comparison, and begin to grasp that every one of us has something unique to offer this world. You have something that no-one else can give in the same way you can, because there is no-one else just like you! Lisa Bevere puts it well in one of her books when she writes “Comparison is cheating us and this earth of who we truly are. There is no need for comparison or competition if our value and identity are ultimately tied to our innate uniqueness. You are His child without rival, carrying a light without equal.”

If you’re like me you might need to take a little time with God to ponder these thoughts, but let’s choose to embrace them and allow their truth to shape the way we live.

Sue’s challenge to us at retreat was to become ‘the best me I can be’. Will you join me and take up this challenge?

Heather Wilson – 1st Year Pastor