Recently a friend told me she wanted to go on a silent retreat. As I looked over information on the Internet about a retreat center not far from where we lived, the following caught my attention:
“A retreat is an opportunity to ‘step aside’ from the work and worry of everyday living. It affords you to:
- rest body and soul
- review where you have been
- plan your course for the future
A retreat often provides you with the energy and inner peace needed to ‘carry on’ with everyday living. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your life in the quiet presence of the Spirit.”
The Growth in Faith Women’s retreat in our area is coming up at the end of the month (see www.growthinfaith.org). I’m looking forward to it, but I realize I need more than just a day or two a year of retreating.
And sometimes even at a “retreat,” I can get caught up in the noise around me and the clamor in my mind. My best times at Growth in Faith and other retreats have been when I’m in the prayer room being quiet before God reflecting on what the speaker has said or the singer has sung and allowing God to reveal what it has to do with me.
As I was looking through the Bible I noticed the only time the word “retreat” was used, it had to do with withdrawing from battle. It occurred to me that a spiritual retreat is withdrawing from the battle of living life on planet earth with all its demands and disappointments.
When I had a dog that needed at least an hour of exercise daily, my walks around my neighborhood were often retreat times for me. I felt much nearer to God than I tend to these days. My dog’s no longer with me, and I find it hard to carve out time for those walks.
Even Jesus found retreating important. In Mark 1:35 it says,
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Retreating for me has been different than what the church calls “quiet time.” Too often my quiet time has little to do with stilling my mind or withdrawing from the pressures of my life. I find myself just rushing through a short time with God to fulfill some kind of duty.
Retreating brings me back to a place of peace—to a place where I confirm I’m not in control but God is, and He can be trusted.
One of my favorite places for a retreat is on the beach in the early morning. There I feel small and God seems so big and as reliable as the surf. The sound of the waves calms me. And somehow there life makes more sense as I put my focus back on the big picture—who God is and what He requires of me. There I tend to let go of being stressed, depressed, obsessed, and I embrace the sense of being blessed and caressed.
My goal is to spend more time in the retreat mode in the days and months ahead. I might even consider one of those silent retreats.
What about you? Do you need some time to withdraw from every day life to get back in tune with God? Do you long to find a time and place for reflection and refreshing? Ask God to draw you away to such a place and enjoy the life-changing benefits.