October 15, 2007

 

Retreat Required

By Karen Ehman

“………he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31b (NIV)

Devotion:

I have a confession to make. I am an addict. A serious addict. And I know many others who share my awful obsession. No, it is not to alcohol or drugs or nicotine. It isn’t trashy TV or romance novels. I am addicted to busyness.

 

My addiction habit began forming long ago when I was just a girl in junior high school. To escape a less-than-perfect broken home, and to numb the emotional pain I was feeling from the fallout, I soon discovered busyness. Yep, sign me up for cheerleading, school newspaper, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, softball, the local youth group, volunteer work and a part–time job to boot! By the time I graduated high school I was involved in more activities than a set of triplets should be. Unfortunately, I carried this trend into my adult life.

 

In my defense, today we dwell in a society that not only encourages the busy lifestyle, it even applauds and rewards it! And what gal in her right mind doesn’t want an “’atta girl” now and then? Why, our society goes as far as to paint those who live life at a slower pace as freeloaders or slackers. “Why can’t so-and-so help a little with this bake sale? She doesn’t do nearly half as much as I do!”

 

If left unchecked, our busyness can crowd out the most important things in life—God and our families. I have had to learn the hard way that in order to be an effective woman of God, wife and mother, I need to not only slow down, regularly scraping commitments off of my too full plate, but sometimes I need to stop altogether. As I sit writing this, I am outside at a lovely retreat center on a hill overlooking its grape arbor and pear and apple orchards. My take-life-slow husband strongly suggested I come here occasionally to get alone with God; to read; ponder; write and reflect. I walk the pine and perennial-laced grounds in solitude. There are no television sets or computers or ringing phones; only unfamiliar, but blessed, quiet.

 

I will be honest and say it has taken me YEARS to get used to this ceasing of activity for occasional 24-48 hour periods of time each year. I fret and fuss as I am packing. “What about the kids? Will they be okay without me? Oh, maybe I should just stay home. I could get so caught up around here with that big chunk of time!” But Christ beckons me. “Come with me by yourselves….” Alone. By myself and for myself. It is for my own good. It is necessary. And ultimately, it is better for my family to have a rested, focused and refreshed mom. On retreat I can best hear from God whom I have discovered most often prefers not to scream over the top of our busyness but instead to whisper to us in quiet.

 

Yes, in the Christian life retreat is required. Running full steam ahead at Energizer bunny speed is not only stupid, it is downright dangerous. Even the Lord Jesus had regular times of rest and withdrawal. We need to follow His lead. I have come to realize the truth of the saying, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” And dear ones, both states render us useless and ineffective for the kingdom. Decide today that very soon you too will cease, retreat and refuel. You won’t regret it.

 

Dear Lord, Forgive me for ignoring Your command to come away with You for a while. Please arrange my circumstances soon so that I might spend uninterrupted time with you. May I drink deep of Your lavish love and reflect the calm and comfort I receive to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

 

A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

 

The Air I Breathe by Louie Gigilio

 

Application Steps: 

Put pen to paper and craft yourself a pie chart of your life. What percent of the time do you spend each month on these various activities: working—away or at home; sleeping; eating; caring for kids; homemaking; church; outside activities; hobbies; Internet or television, etc…? Now, how much time do you spend alone with God? I don’t mean “going to church and church activities” I mean you, God and your Bible, a journal, some worship music and maybe a classic Christian book? Now take a look at the chart in front of you. How would you like to see it change?

 

Reflections: 

Plan today for a retreat in the near future. Be creative. While all towns may not have an inexpensive retreat center open to the public, with a little ingenuity you can come up with a plan. A hotel room, library conference room, church Sunday School classroom or out of the way coffee shop are all places of possibility. Perhaps you are a mom with young children at home ... barter with a friend and you’ll both come out winners. One day you watch all of your combined children at her house while she uses your place for a 9 to 5 weekday retreat. The next week, swap.

 

To help you focus and forget your worries for a while, try this: Make a prioritized list of all of the things you’d like to accomplish at home and all of the items needing your attention when you return. Fold up the paper, place it in an envelope and mentally and physically leave it home when you go away to retreat. Tell God that you’d love to forget about all of those tasks and focus on Him for the next period of time. Knowing your never ending “to do” list is all made out and waiting for you when you get home will help to keep your mind riveted on God.

 

Power Verses:

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NIV) 

 

Psalm 131:1-2 “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (NIV)

 

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105

www.Proverbs31.org