It’s a battle cry of the beloved.
It is revolutionary.
My first personal retreat was the open gate that welcomed my heart back home to rest. As a deeply ingrained workaholic, the power of personal retreat was eye opening and heart softening. Regular getaways with God have drastically and beautifully altered the course of my life.
Retreat takes the best of all 4 biblical rhythms of rest (Sabbath, Stillness, Solitude and Sleep) and wraps them up in a few quiet hours off the beaten path.
But we resist.
We don’t have time.
Satan pulls out every lie, trick and detour. He is desperate to keep us from such treasure.
E. M. Bounds reminds us that “A holy life does not live in the closet, but it cannot live without it.”
Yet, a commitment to personal retreat does not dwell in the recesses of our hearts or minds. We assign it to a place of insignificance. We see it as an activity for the spiritually elite, the recluse or those with too much time on their hands. We are unaware that it’s profound power to refuel and refresh those on the front lies.
Truth be told, “retreat” is a battle-cry for those longing to see the Kingdom of God advance, bringing light and hope to dark places and lonely hearts.
It begins with our own.
There are three kinds of personal retreats: offensive, defensive and forced.
Jesus was the poster child for offensive retreats. Time away with his Father was planned, prioritized and routine. He recognized the importance of getting away off the beaten path and he was known to ‘head for the hills.’ Take a look at the book of Luke in the New Testament. Start with 5:15. Then visit 4:1, 14 & 42. Finish up with 6:12-13, 9:18, 11:1 and 22:39. Jesus was a man of retreat.
The story of John the Baptist’s beheading speaks to us of our need for defensive personal retreats. Matthew 14:13 tells us that when Jesus received the devastating news of his cousin’s death, he withdrew from the hubbub, taking a boat by himself to a solitary place. Although we don’t know what Jesus was feeling, I think it’s safe to make some guesses. Jesus’ heart was heavy. He was sad, angry, aching. He desired to get away. He needed focused time with his Father.
Ever felt that way? Don’t resist to urge to pull away.
Jonah’s three-day stint in the belly of a large fish is probably one of the most unique personal retreats in the history of the world. Can’t quite imagine the stink and the slime. Not too many travel brochures on that destination. Truth is – God likes to whisper, but if he can’t get our attention he’s been known to throw a brick. I’ll take a whisper over a brick any day, but forced personal retreats are good at grabbing our attention.
It’s grabbed mine.
Will you choose an offensive retreat this summer?
Get your red pen. Pick a day. Pick a half a day. Pick two hours.
Write it in blood.
We’ll cover the basic “how to’s” later this week.
Be ready for some surprises.
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God’s richest blessings.