In this issue:
- Do you have questions? Breakthroughs!
- Free Resource
- An Encouraging Word
Do you have a question, an “ah ha,” a tip, tool, or breakthrough? We are in this together and would love to hear from you so we can share (anonymously or named) what’s working for you and/or what questions are surfacing for you on this journey toward vibrancy and sustainability. Email Brenda any time: firstname.lastname@example.org Don’t be shy. Your thoughts, encouragement, questions might be just what someone else needs!
We have two Time with God (personal retreat) 1-page guides. Each takes 20-60 minutes and is a great launching pad for a little getaway with God in your back yard, a coffee shop, or on the beach. Email Brenda any time: email@example.com
An Encouraging Word
Below is an 830-word article that will help ignite your commitment to taking a personal (or personalized) retreat this summer and help make it happen! Do you have children at home? Tag-team. Make a plan!
Catch Your Breath
By Brenda Jank
I believe WWJD should be replaced by WDJD “What did Jesus do?” Well—he held babies, talked to strangers, asked difficult questions, went to parties and disappeared, quite often, to get away and be alone.
Going away on personal retreat or a personalized retreat is not a nicety, it is a necessity for any person-of-faith fighting on the front line. Jesus’ life revolved around the renewal and replenishment he received in the presence of his Father in quiet places off the beaten path. ‘Winded and weary’ not only describes how we often feel, it also described how Jesus sometimes felt (John 4:6, Mark 4:38). We are not alone and Jesus has the remedy.
Exhaustion is not a sin, but not embracing the rhythms God created to replenish us, is. Being tired is not a design flaw, but a result of the built-in limitations our Limitless God chose to craft into our bodies made of dust. He wanted us to be people of rhythm, people of work and rest. Taking time to rest is not just a break from what we do, it is a portal into who we are.
Personalized Retreats must become a rhythm we embrace, but let’s admit, it is foreign territory. We have no models, mentors or methods. Mystery reigns. “What in the world would I do all day?” Let’s begin with the basics.
Start. Pick a day in the next 4 to 6 weeks. Go solo or invite a friend. (It will be harder to pull out of your getaway at the last minute if you invite a friend.) Half day. Full day. Overnighter. There is no right or wrong. Do what works in this season of life. Next, think place. Stay local and visit a park, a library, and a favorite restaurant. Or make it a short road trip. Visit a state park. Lake Michigan. A town you’ve wanted to explore. Circle the day in red.
Mental Preparation. Personal retreat is not about what we’re going to do for God, it’s about what he wants to do for us. So, what are we to do? Here are a few suggestions for your to enjoy alone or with a friend: Rest well. Listen carefully. Surrender to freedom and the power of unplanned moments. Laugh out-loud. Meander. Feast. Wonder. Play. Hike. Read. Fish. Write. Discover. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Rest well. Take Jesus’ words in Mark 6: 31 to heart. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. In other words, “Come and embrace the peace and quiet I long to bestow.” This is easier said than done. We are used to going a million miles an hour. Learning how to rest might possibly be the hardest work of our lives. Do not give up. Do not give in. Take time to decompress. It is not a day of work. We are not to work through our prayer list, write a Bible study or read a pile of books. We are to rest. Remarkably, when we choose to rest we are participating in the very first thing God called holy (Genesis 2:3). Nap. Journal. Sing. Sit. Linger. Lounge. Get outside. Watch a squirrel. Look for patterns in the clouds. Listen to the wind. Jean Pierre de Caussade (mid 1700’s) called it the Sacrament of the Present Moment. I call it a taste of Abundant Life.
Listen carefully. The barrage of 21st century noise does not orient our souls to the voice of God, yet recognizing his voice is critical to my well-being and the vibrancy of my faith. When we purposefully pause to listen, we trade in our fish sticks for a “fresh catch.”
My daughter Anna used to cradle my face in her hands and say, “Mommy, I like it when you listen with your eyes.” Extended time alone with our Father gives God our undivided attention.
God whispers in your soul and speaks to your mind. Sometimes when you don’t have time to listen, he has to throw a brick. It’s your choice: Listen to the whisper. Wait for the brick. (author unknown)
Surrender. We are familiar with surrender. Many of us surrender a portion of our salaries, our gifts and talents—but rarely our time. We know how to work for God. But we don’t know how to meet with God—quietly surrendered and ready to receive. Wave the white flag. Come out with your hands lifted high. When we discover our resting place in God, he gains full access to our weary souls.
Embark. When the day arrives pack you Bible, journal, pillow, favorite snacks, music, and a book. Travel light. Dress so you can be outside. (bug spray, sun block, hat, gloves?) Remind yourself that the hard work of rest is the holy work of God.
What did Jesus do—WDJD? He went away, often, to be alone with his Father.
Let’s follow his lead.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.