An Immersive and Transformative Experience

Immersed and transformed! That was the rich and wonderful experience I shared with the precious women who attended the Ambassador Church’s Women’s Retreat the first weekend in May. I was given the privilege of being the speaker for this event, and had come to really like and appreciate the women who were planning it; Breezy, Lisa, Eveline, Cindy and Nicole. (I’ve known Breezy for 5 years; enjoying lively discussions, and driving her nuts begging her to sing for me with her stunning voice.) Still, I was blessed beyond my expectations as I spent more time with these ladies.

The retreat was held at a lovely resort in gorgeous La Quinta, a city on the floor of the Coachella Valley, and almost completely surrounded by the Santa Rosa Mountain range. The atmosphere and beauty was reminiscent of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where photographers flock to take photos in the unique lighting that is famously, “magical." 

Speaking of magical! The retreat was that. The girls obviously put their hearts and imaginations into creating a fun, stimulating, safe-place-to-be-real, vibrant experience. The worship was beautiful, each song perfectly chosen, much like a soundtrack that undergirds and amplifies scenes in a brilliantly constructed film. Except it was better than that because it immersed us in the beauty and presence of God! His presence and love was palpable.  

Something else I greatly appreciated was their sincere desire to offer a transformative experience to anyone who wanted one. This was not just some form of entertainment, performance or weekend escape. The activities were arranged to foster genuine connections, conversations, and deep sharing of hearts. Wow. I witnessed that happening, and I participated in it. Many of the women were drawn out~sharing their needs, their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. The love, kindness, and support freely flowing among the women was amazing. In this kind of atmosphere, hearts can be transparent and transformed. Tears, smiles, laughter, and healing filled the weekend. Wounded hearts found comfort, burdens were lifted, hopes were revived.


The theme of the retreat was from Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NET Bible), and from 2 Corinthians 3:17,18: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (ESV). We discussed how this transformation can take place, and how our minds can be renewed. We explored how we can be freed from old, negative, dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors we all become entrapped in, and how to develop new ways of perceiving (our minds being renewed) so we can live in wholeness, in God’s will.


I told on myself a bit in the first session; how God revealed to me my utter brokenness so I could acknowledge it, and lay it at His feet in exchange for His life-giving truth. I shared that the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-18) believed they were “rich, prosperous, in need of nothing.” Educated, wealthy, and independent, they didn’t realize that they were “blind, naked, wretched, and miserable,” as Jesus described them. The point is that as we acknowledge our brokenness, we qualify to be healed and blessed! What an astounding spiritual exchange; I surrender my weakness, failings, dysfunctional attitudes, beliefs, and lies, in exchange for God’s healing and freeing truth. My “badness” gets transformed by His goodness as I focus my eyes and heart on Him, and immerse myself in His presence. Sounds like a really good deal, except it ultimately costs us everything. We have to surrender all of our darkness and dysfunction for His goodness. Hmm, still sounds like a great plan to me! 

We spoke honestly of the internal conflicts we all face between the parts of ourselves that want to be transformed, and the parts that resist change. We acknowledged that sometimes we even cling to fear, resentments, and unforgiveness. Why? Because in some ways we think they empower us, protect us, or are so much a part of our identity that we are afraid to let them go and be changed. We agreed this is a life-long journey, and well worth taking the next step towards becoming whole. Many of us did take a big step forward that weekend.   

So I thank the beautiful women from Ambassador Church in Brea, Ca. for inviting me to join their journey. They said my speaking was “perfect for what they needed," and they were perfect for me. I loved being with them in that transformative experience, immersed in God’s love, and the love of His precious women. 

© Laurel Basbas 2014