This is part 3 of a 7-part series on Personal Retreats that Brenda wrote for Everyone a Missionary in 2007. We also ran this series in 2016. Click here if you would like to start at the beginning of the series.
Away to a Quiet Place
What does this mean for us today? First, Jesus went away to quiet places. The value of getting away to a quiet place can’t be underestimated. For Jesus, the desert (as well as other nooks in the hills of Judea) provided an undistracted place to be alone with his Father. Why? Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life allows us the opportunity to savor the gifts of silence and rest.
The words quiet, alone, and undistracted do not describe the vast majority of believers’ lives. Our noisy, non-stop world makes hearing God’s voice challenging at best, practically impossible in some situations. God shouts to us through the glories of His creation, but when calling our name, He speaks with a quiet, still voice.
Our world is noisy, yes but sadly, so are our hearts. Self-absorbed, preoccupied and distracted, we miss the miracle of many quiet moments.
Twenty-first century Christians would do well to cultivate quiet. Quiet time allows our Lord to bless and refresh us by anchoring our identity in him and refueling us for the tasks at hand. This quiet time is as essential as the air we breathe, but it is easily shoved aside by pressing demands. The alarm doesn’t go off. A friend calls. A grandchild is visiting. The baby wakes. Or perhaps we are restless, sleepy or preoccupied.
God works. God speaks, in a flash – in moment’s time. It’s not that he can’t speak to us through the everyday noises and distractions; it’s often that we don’t have ears to hear, eyes to see. But there’s more to getaway places than just quiet. There’s also a matter of rest.
If our bodies need a restorative eight hours of sleep each night, what do our souls need? With self-reliance running through our veins, most of us hate being in need. But needy we are. Even with proper attention to personal needs for rest, our bodies eventually rust and leak, sag and creak. Yet some of us abhor our body’s God-given need for rest and defiantly attempt to live without it. A price is paid for such folly: ailments, chronic irritation and assaults on our productivity, contentment and joy.
Some things never change. Although there is a uniquely frenzied pace of modern times, due in part to the advent of electricity and the boom of communication innovation, God’s people weren’t immune to the exhaustion of endless demands 2000 years ago either. Listen to Mark’s account of one very hectic day:
Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Rest. It’s a gift that refuels, renews and refreshes. Everyday life batters my soul. Throw in some weighty responsibilities at work, a frazzled relationship, a cartload of guilt, and waves of weariness descend upon me at an alarming rate. I am convinced that today’s modern mayhem is not a life-style which orients us to the things of God. The missing ingredient to this puzzling way of life is simply and profoundly – rest. When I refuse to rest, when I refuse to enter into extended, quiet moments, I forfeit this gift from heaven.
Time. It’s not our enemy. Despite our concern that there isn’t enough of it, Abraham Heschel reminds us that time is actually the first thing God called holy in Genesis 2:3. On this seventh day of creation, He did not designate a holy place for His people to meet with Him, but a holy day, a holy time. Dedicating a portion of our time to focus on the Lord, free of clutter and distraction, awakens our ability to attend to Him within the everyday moments of life.
Time. It is a gift and it is holy.
Does silence find a place in your life? Does your pace allow for it?
And what about rest? What does rest feel like and look like in your life right now? Anything missing? Anything worth celebrating?!