Retreat. When you read this word, what comes to your mind?
For some, it is a negative thing (meaning to withdraw from enemy forces), to be avoided at all costs. According to Napoleon Bonaparte: “In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake.”
For others, it is a positive thing (meaning an act of changing one's decisions, plans, or attitude), to be practiced until one can pick battles wisely. According to Norman Vincent Peale: “Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.”
For Jesus, it is a necessary thing (meaning to withdraw to a quiet or secluded place, in which one can rest, relax and renew), to be prioritized faithfully. According to the Gospel of Mark: “Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer” (Mark 1:35).
Retreat. What comes to your mind?
For many of us, if we are honest, we would say that it is either a luxury of time we cannot afford or a waste of time to sit in silence and do nothing.
For the Psalmist, it is an investment in one’s relationship with God and with oneself, that is priceless: “You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me” (Psalm 119:114).
Retreat. This is the word that is on my mind this month. It is a busy time of year for me at home: with my husband leading a middle school and with our children both seniors, making big decisions about their futures. It is a busy time of year for me at church: leading our strategic Dream and Scheme team, nurturing new elders on Session and new Deacons, facilitating a search team for a new Director of Christian Education, welcoming parents and children back to Wooden Ladder preschool, preaching a series concerning current events “What Would Jesus Do?”, co-leading a discussion on racism, leading a new member class, kicking off our Stewardship/Generosity campaign, and planning for Advent and Christmas. Oh my!
I know that Jesus had to do so much more, and yet still, he “went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.”
This year, for the first time in 5 years as your Pastor, I requested and you granted me a week to go away on a Prayer Retreat. For the week of October 22-28, I will be staying at the Well of Mercy in North Carolina so I can be alone in prayer. Thank you for your commitment to making sure that your Pastor stays healthy and is spiritually renewed and refreshed. I will be praying for all of you, and I ask for you to be praying for me and for our ministry together.
Retreat. I invite you to reconsider this word in your own life. A retreat doesn’t have to be exclusive; it is for anyone and everyone. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it can be as simple as sitting in your back yard or taking a walk in the woods and seeing the beauty of the changing leaves. And it doesn’t have to be expansive; it can be as short as 5 minutes a day.
However you choose to take a retreat, just do it! You will be glad you did. And so will God!