This week I will travel to Kentucky to spend time at a monastery for a personal silent retreat. This will be a new experience for me but one I am thoroughly looking forward to. There is a yearning in my soul to experience a deeper intimacy with my God. He is calling me to rest in order to replenish my body, mind, and soul. I will use this time of silence and retreat to re-calibrate and discern all that I see for my story not only today, but also for my future. You see, I do have a yearning for more – more influence, more opportunities, more dreams that I am uniquely called to follow. I will carry these thoughts into this space anticipating a sweet fellowship with Jesus.
I love what Ruth Haley Barton says in her new book, Invitation to Retreat: “The yearning for retreat is your invitation. It is the Spirit of God stirring up your deepest longings and questions in order to draw you deeper into the intimacy with God you were created for. Will you trust it? Are you brave enough to let it carry you to more?”
This opportunity requires attention to your intention; it is not casual. It is specific. I have found that when I have focused on the “when” and the “where” of finding my rest, it has become a beautiful opportunity to enter into that space with great anticipation. Because I am paying more attention to my desires and longings, I am finding God speaking. Sometimes He speaks with great clarity, other times it is just a whisper.
So today, I invite you to take time to ponder where you will find your time to retreat. This is your moment for you to plan a “strategic withdrawal.” Be careful to not immediately dismiss this idea because of how busy you are. Begin praying as you look at your calendar squares and ask God for His discernment. Sit with that prayer and listen for His whisper. Then, with full on attention, begin strategically planning for your retreat.
This is not a casual call. You are in the battle of your life and the enemy wants you exhausted because when you are, he is able to throw all kinds of things at you in order for him to win.
Let me close with a few ideas for strategic withdrawals:
• A weekly Sabbath: Set aside one day in your week to engage in life-giving activities such as reading, playing, and sleeping. If your family can join you in this space that would be great, but if that is not possible share your desire with them for your time. You may not be able to take a full 24 hour time period; begin with a specific time allotment and then protect it.
• Time in nature: Take walks. Sit for awhile and notice the sounds that are around you.
• Withdraw from all media: Take a day to turn off the radio, the TV, the computer and even your phone. Let your message on your voicemail state that you are on retreat. This will be hard at first, but you will love how it feels the more you do it.Share these desires with your intimate relationships. When you are proactive in your planning, there is a greater opportunity for support.
Take time today to ask God what HE wants you to do with this one brief idea. Do you hear Him inviting you to retreat? If so, will you be brave enough to begin planning for it and then actually doing it? You will NEVER regret spending time in this space.
I would love to hear how you are doing. I cannot wait to share my reflections with you next week.
Have an awesome week!