Retreat Is Not Surrender

stressedThe phone is ringing constantly, I am being overrun by emails, my diary is full to bursting, I am stressed and to my horror I look ahead in my diary to see, that the entry for the next day, is blocked between 10am and 3pm as a spiritual retreat with my wife (not that spending time with my wife is a bad thing!) I instinctively wonder where on Gods green earth do I have the time for that!?! I begin to frantically think of excuses, so I can cancel it and keep my nose to the grind stone, and do Gods work for the church he has placed me in.

Yes I get to that place all to often with my schedule. When I’m generally too busy to pray, read the bible, spend time with my family, eat well, and actually relax in any meaningful way or indeed any of the aforementioned in a way that is satisfying.

It doesn’t even seem to matter that a few weeks ago, my body tried to teach me a lesson and took matters into its own hands! It was as though my body had decided to club together for an intervention to make me stop. It collected a nasty flu bug,  breathed it in deeply and nagged me over the preceding  week that if I didn’t rest I was done for and indeed I was! By thursday evening of that week, after I got back from  my second funeral that day I only had only one option, which was climb into bed and stay there for a few days. I cancelled my services and appointments and rested and wasn’t myself really until the following week.

But back to this retreat in the diary, what was I to do? Well, do you know, I didn’t cancel it and went on it just me and my lovely wife, we talked, prayed, ate snacks and looked at the beautiful view. We even did an entry in our couples devotional bible that we have been doing sporadically for our 13 years of marriage, we are in Nehemiah! We both experienced Gods peace, his holding, realigning our perspective to his, a reduction in stress and a reorientation to the path the Lord is leading us on.

My work load hadn’t diminished, but somehow taking that space and time, to centre on who I work for rather on what my denomination demands of me, made the jobs, the need for inspiration a little easier and life became more in perspective. Just as the gospel of Matthew 6 :28-34 reminds us to live  first seeking the kingdom of God.

Sometimes the last place we go, is the place we should start. I encourage you to retreat, not out of weakness but the need to seek God, lean on him, trust in him, deepen our walk with the only one who sees the whole picture and for whom the present you’re experiencing storm is already history. Then step out in faith not leaving God behind, but lifting your head up looking ahead at what is coming together with the one who loves you more completely now than he can ever love you.

1900031_10153932473690111_2012419033_n “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

4 Comments

  1. Connie coates says:

    Brockley Hall, Saltburn Christian centre closed in January. Moorlands, Whitby closed about a year ago. There seems to be no place in our area for a peaceful short break. Conferences also have no residential places for retreats/ courses. Minsteracres is excellent, but a long journey North.

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    • Andy says:

      Thanks for your comment. Depending where you are based, the Poiry durham is good, also local churches might have some ideas, also had heard scargill house in north yorks had closed and reopened, but you would need to check that out. Hope that helps god bless andy

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