“Beginning the Year in the Presence of the Lord”
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Life is not a walk in the park. It’s more akin to a battle. And truth be told, sometimes we’re on the losing side. When we’re hemmed in on every side and have exhausted our resources, instead of throwing up the white flag and retreating to fight another day, we too often just soldier on. Bruised and bleeding, we persist in entering the fray and fighting a losing battle.
Soon enough, however, the fight catches up with us, and the signs of spiritual PTSD begin to show up. Our joy dissipates and cynicism grows. We quit dreaming about the future and just try to survive today. Little conflicts send us through the roof with anger. Simple decisions become paralyzingly difficult. The deep loneliness sets in. We think to ourselves, “No one understands,” and as resentment swells, we tell ourselves, “No one really cares.”
Sadly, God’s included in the “no one cares” comment. You’d never say it, of course, but you feel it to be true. Or, maybe it’s gotten to that point where you actually do say it. The felt distance between you and God has grown so wide and the path back to Him has grown so thick that you’re beginning to wonder if there is a path back…
If any of this sounds familiar, then you’re past time for what Emilie Griffin calls, “strategic withdrawal” and what generations of Christians have called retreat. Contrary to popular opinion, retreat is not a spiritual luxury but a soul surviving necessity. If Christ be formed in us (Gal. 4:19), we must learn to pull away for an extended period time to take inventory of life and our relationship with God and others—to gain spiritual rest and replenishment. Instead of shredding the rhythms of work and rest woven into the created order, we must cultivate the priority and practice of Sabbath rest as one of God’s prescribed means for spiritual health, growth, and maturity (Exodus 20:8).
If Sabbath rest and retreat are this important, the church should make it a priority to train God’s people in how to rest well. To that end, I’m inviting you to come away with me for a morning of quiet reflection, guided fellowship, and prayer. At a beautiful retreat center on the edge of town, we’ll spend the first Saturday morning of 2019 seeking the face of God for the rest of God. I’ve entitled the retreat, “Beginning the Year in the Presence of the Lord.” Space is limited to 12 participants. The cost is only $15! For more information or to register for the retreat, contact Susan Bumpus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Isn’t it time for you to take Jesus up on his standing invitation, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31)? I look forward to seeing you on January 5th.