Taking time away for refreshment is essential
By Brenda Jank
I was surrounded—inundated by three little boys
under the age of three. My life was a dream come true, but more taxing
than I had ever imagined. Unprepared for chronic exhaustion, I found myself
growing dangerously depleted, with no end in sight. That year, spring
brought the promise of warmer days and sunny skies, but it couldn’t
melt the winter slush that had settled in my soul.
Where did I go? Outside. I needed the sun in my face, the smell of spring in the air, and the promise of new life emerging from the soil beneath my feet. I found a park.
A Spring Start
Even with a strong beginning, my commitment to personal retreats evaporated with the arrival of my children. Life got more complicated. I was prone to guilt, and taking time away felt selfish. I allowed my heart to grow accustomed to running on empty. It worked for a while, but God sent a wake-up call in the form of desperation, together with Tim’s invitation and a dangling set of car keys.
I no longer wait for the gauge of my emotional and spiritual reserves to blink in warning. Spring triggers for me a commitment to rest and reflection. Going away to a retreat center for a long afternoon alone recharges my batteries and melts away the slush. It allows me to catch my breath, take inventory, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
Room to Breath
Committing to rest positively affects every aspect of
my life. It fortifies the soul, fuels passion, and fans faith. The power
of this kind of rest and renewal is released when believers take time
away from their regular routines to meet with God alone in a few unhurried
God whispers in my ear, “Retreat.”
A New Vantage Point
Without continual reminders of eternity, I get sucked in and fall short of reflecting God’s counter-cultural, life-changing ways to neighbors, friends, and family. Time away strengthens my embrace of the radical aspects of faith like unconditional love, selfless generosity, and worry-free living.
Personal retreats also allow me to take inventory of my pain, my priorities, and my passions, providing God’s slant on these matters in exchange for my limited, misaligned ideas. The trade-off is satisfying and worthwhile.
God speaks to my heart, “Retreat.”
A World of Wonder
Pausing to enjoy the wonder of God’s world helps me rediscover the creative powers at His disposal. He Who flung the universe into being, He Who sculpted the bumblebee’s wings, and He Who orchestrates the chorus of critters is the same God who knows the intricacies of my thoughts and my dreams.
A Christian camp, conference center, or retreat center is a wonderful place to experience a personal retreat. Not only do these beautiful sites allow you to enjoy creation, but they also create space for rest. Cabin or lodge accommodations are often accompanied by meals prepared for you so you can maximize your time with God. Many feature hiking trails or even prayer walks designed to lead you in conversation with your Creator.
God shouts through the heavens, “Retreat!”
The rewards of personal retreat are great. The need is glaring. Getting away once a year to be quiet and alone with God creates a unique experience that nourishes the soul. Those few hours away allow me to pause, focusing attention off myself long enough to get a glimpse of God’s mighty hand and tender love.
In Mark 6:31, Jesus extends an invitation that we can claim today: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Brenda, an author and camping professional based in Indiana, has been leading retreats for 20 years. One of her greatest joys is watching her children grow in awe of the Creator and His handiwork.
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