This is the final post of a 7-part series on Personal Retreats that Brenda wrote for Everyone a Missionary in 2007. We also ran this series in 2016.Click here if you would like to start at the beginning of the series.
A two year old is prone to the war cry, “Mine!” He is also remarkably persevering. Her focus is unrelenting. His grip is fierce. Determination is boldly written across her face.
If this series is to make any difference in where, how, and why you are embracing and engaging your world for Christ, a key ingredient to your ongoing direction and determination will be found in the war cry, “Mine!”
Will personal retreats remain theoretical? A series of blog posts? A pastime of monks and introverts? Or will they become an avenue of spiritual transformation you claim as your own? Is it possible? Yes!
And it’s probable, too, if you take to heart these musings from a fellow traveler whose heart, like yours, is passionate about God’s mission on earth.
Taking a Day Away
A little bit of preparation goes a long way to ensure your time away is inviting, freeing and purposeful. Keep these things in mind.
There is no right way or wrong way to meet with God. The pathway He creates to our heart is unique and highly individualized. Remove any “straight jacket” expectations that extended quiet time with God has to be full of silence, solitude or sedentary activities. That’s a great recipe for some. Others would wither. If you best meet with God while being active, go and do what your heart desires – hike, bike, fish or sing as a way to restfully prepare your soul for your focused time of meditation, prayer and reflection.
Planning Your Day Away
Consider inviting a friend to join you. This invitation serves as an encouragement, and makes a last-minute cancellation less likely. Enjoy the travel time together, as well as meal times, but agree to give each other extended time for personal prayer and reflection.
Pick a date and location. Retreat centers may offer very reasonable day-rates during the week or on Sunday afternoons. Going to a park, a friend’s cottage or to church may also work well. Mark the day in red.
For some, a personal retreat away from home seems almost impossible. A tight financial situation or unique needs for child or elder care create formidable obstacles. If that’s the case, consider setting aside a few evening hours, wake up exceptionally early or carve out a Sunday afternoon. Choose the quietest room in your home. Turn off the phone. Play instrumental music or create some white noise with a fan to block out distracting family noises. Move a comfortable chair to a slightly new location. Try facing a window or propping up your feet. (If you’re so inclined, light some candles and purchase a favorite snack or beverage.) Do something enjoyable to transition from everyday life to “retreat mode” – take a walk, a bubble bath, read, shoot some hoops, take a bike ride . . . Have your Bible, pen and paper waiting and ready to go.
As children of God, we are invited to quiet, solitary places. Jesus extended this invitation to his closest friends in Mark 6:31. He extends it to his closest friends today as well. “Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”
How often do we take Him up on this remarkable offer? It’s a question meant not to impose a sense of guilt, but to instill a growing sense of wonder and excitement for what our Lord is inviting us to enjoy. Personal retreats are tools of renewal and direction for everyday missionaries, a gift from God’s heart to ours. It’s time to swing those doors wide open.
Will you grab your calendar and pick a day? You will not be disappointed.