During the first week of work at my first youth ministry job, I received an invitation to join the senior pastor on a personal retreat. I accepted without reservation. It was a glorious time spent reading the introduction to Piper’s Desiring God at Great Falls State Park on the cliffs overlooking the Potomac River. I got off to a great start in ministry, but it would be six years before I hit the point where I was in desperate need of time away with God.
Over the ensuing six years, I became increasingly busy with a wide range of spiritual and religious activities. I was in a perpetual cycle of preparation, and sermon delivery, program execution, and meeting agendas. I wasn’t neglecting my spiritual development; I read about God, talked about God, wrote about God, sang songs about God, and prayed to God, but there was no time when I simply broke away to be with God.
The RPMs in my life were revving so high, it was nearly impossible for me to be still and quiet, that I might hear God’s voice. My life was well described by T.S. Eliot, who wrote: “We are distracted from our distractions by more distractions.” A life of such busyness keeps us from being able to attend to necessary things like listening to our hearts, our emotions, and our God.
Many of us become satisfied with praying on the go, five minutes of quiet devotions, listening to Christian music, and a hearing a sermon a week. We thereby convince ourselves we are keeping connected with God. If we are honest with ourselves, down deep, we fear we are far from abiding and being with God.
This lack of abiding and being at home with God in the realized presence of God is the reason most of us need to take personal retreats. Dare to make the leap of setting aside a day or two to go away from your routines and regular schedules and devote time to being with God. A retreat like this allows us to find wholeness, focus, and re-prioritization.
[Photo credit: delphwynd]