Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer stands at the podium and scans the 2,400-strong audience. She sees moms, grandmothers, singles, widows, believers, nonbelievers and a few sleepwalkers.
"I want to speak to the sleepwalkers," Shirer said during a LifeWay-sponsored Going Beyond women’s conference held Feb. 26-27 at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va. "I want to speak to everyone who’s waiting and wishing to go on to the next thing in life, all the while missing what God is doing in the right here and now."
Shirer, Bible teacher and founder of the Dallas-based Going Beyond Ministries, cautioned women to not rush through life and miss out on the beauty of God, no matter what stage of life they are in.
"He wants us, the women of God, to open our eyes and be fully aware and engaged in what He’s doing in this particular season of our lives," Shirer said. "No more sleepwalking. It’s time for us to be involved in what it is that God is doing."
Shirer taught from Genesis 28, recounting how Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebecca, fled to Paddan-Aram after tricking his older brother out of his birthright.
Jacob, weary from the long journey, stopped at a certain place to spend the night.
Shirer explained that "certain places" are often "sacred places."
"If we are not careful, we’ll do just what Jacob did and choose to go to sleep instead of fully engaging on the journey that God has for us," said Shirer, mentioning that the "certain place" in the text was the same area Jacob’s grandfather Abraham used to offer sacrifices to God in years past.
"Certain places are where the sun of your hope begins to fade; where you’ve set your sights on something, but darkness has overtaken you and fatigue overwhelms you," she said. "You may feel that it’s easier to disengage, and that’s what the enemy would like you to do, but you will miss out on the sacredness of certain places."
Shirer encouraged the women to take advantage of the time they have in the "certain places" in life in order to yield a godly return.
"Realize that you are going to reap the harvest in a later season in life," she said. "You may never have those small children again or raise those teenagers. You may never be in that particular place on your job again, and the seeds that you sow there will be the harvest that returns to you. You will treat people and relationships differently when you know you are going to reap the harvest in a later season."
Shirer, daughter of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship senior pastor Tony Evans, cited her godly heritage as an example of reaping a good harvest.
"I think of my sweet, godly grandparents, and how my grandfather was radically saved in his mid-20s," Shirer said, mentioning that her grandmother was sitting in the audience.
"My grandmother one day realized that anything that could change my grandfather could change her too, so she accepted the Lord," Shirer explained. "Little did she know the impact she’d have on her four kids, who would accept Jesus Christ. How could she know that one of her sons, Tony, would move to Dallas, become a pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, have four kids of his own who he invested in spiritually. Because of the seeds that she sowed so many years ago, she’s sitting here today seeing the fruit of the harvest."
The weekend also included prayer time. Shirer invited attendees who had a need to pray with a ministry leader. Women were also invited to submit prayer cards. Shirer and her ministry team prayed for those requests throughout the night.
"The focus on prayer during the event is extremely vital," said Rebecca Houston, from Fairfax Community Church, in Fairfax, Va. "I have been praying for some time about needs I have in my family, and to know that Priscilla and her ministry team really care about our needs is extremely important to me. When the prayer time opened and Priscilla told us to come to the front and someone would pray for us, I rushed from the balcony and walked all the way to the front to get to a ministry leader."
Melissa Todd, Keystone Community Fellowship, North Wales, Penn., came to the conference with 18 women ranging in age from 19-50 and said the message was relevant to what she is going through as a home-school mom.
"I just read the Genesis verse with my four children during our home-school Bible class and now I can go home and share the newfound insights," she said.
Brittney Nanni, 26, also traveled with the Keystone Community Fellowship group and said she gained new insight about not sleepwalking through her singleness.
"I appreciate the lessons Priscilla gave us on being fully engaged in the season that God has placed you in," she said. "For me, it was an encouragement to take advantage of the time of singleness."
The two-day conference also included a session on how to read the Bible more effectively and worship with Anthony Evans, Shirer’s brother.
Shirer is the author of "He Speaks to Me," "Discerning the Voice of God," "One in a Million" and "A Jewel In His Crown."
For more information about upcoming women’s events, visit LifeWay.com/Women.