Retreat Is Not Surrender

stressed

The phone is ringing constantly, I am being overrun by e-mail, my diary is full to bursting, I am stressed and, to my horror, on looking ahead in my diary I 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 God’s green earth do I have the time for that!?! I begin frantically to think of excuses so that I can cancel this and keep my nose to the grindstone, enabling me to do God’s work for the church he has placed me in.

Yes, I get to that place all too often within my schedule when I’m generally too busy to pray, read the bible, spend time with my family, eat well and actually relax – 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 upon an intervention to make me stop. It collected a nasty flu bug, breathed it in deeply and nagged me over the following 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, rested and wasn’t really myself 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 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 couple’s devotional bible that we have been doing sporadically for our 13 years of marriage; we are in Nehemiah! We both experienced God’s 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 workload hadn’t diminished, but somehow taking that space and time to focus on who I work for rather than on what my denomination demands of me made the jobs and the need for inspiration a little easier, putting life more in perspective. The gospel of Matthew reminds us in chapter 6, verses 28-34 to live first seeking the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes the last place we go to is the place where we should start. I encourage you to make time for a retreat, not out of weakness but because of the need to seek God.  Lean on him, trust in him, deepen your walk with the only one who sees the whole picture and for whom the present storm that you’re experiencing is already history.  Then step out in faith, not leaving God behind but lifting your head to look at what is coming, together with the one who loves you more completely now than he has ever loved you.

 

rocky beach “And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour 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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