By Brenda Jank


It’s a battle cry of the beloved.

It’s strategic.

It is revolutionary.

My first personal retreat was the open gate that welcomed my heart back home to rest. My first personal retreat was the open gate that welcomed my heart back home to rest.

As a deeply ingrained workaholic, the power of personal retreat was eye opening and heart softening. Regular getaways with God have drastically and beautifully altered the course of my life. Retreat takes the best of all 4 biblical rhythms of rest (Sabbath, Stillness, Solitude and Sleep) and wraps them up in a few quiet hours off the beaten path.

But we resist.

We don’t have time.

Satan pulls out every lie, trick and detour. He is desperate to keep us from such treasure.

E. M. Bounds reminds us:

“A holy life does not live in the closet, but it cannot live without it.”

Yet, a commitment to personal retreat does not dwell in the recesses of our hearts or minds. We assign it to a place of insignificance. We see it as an activity for the spiritually elite, the recluse or those with too much time on their hands. We are unaware of its profound power to refuel and refresh those on the front lies.

Truth be told, “retreat” is a battle-cry for those longing to see the Kingdom of God advance, bringing light and hope to dark places and lonely hearts.

It begins with the darkness and heaviness of our own hearts.

There are three kinds of personal retreats: offensive, defensive and forced.

Offensive Retreat

Jesus was the poster child for offensive retreats. Time away with his Father was planned, prioritized and routine. He recognized the importance of getting away off the beaten path and he was known to ‘head for the hills.’ Take a look at the book of Luke in the New Testament. Start with 5:15. Then visit 4:1, 14 & 42. Finish up with 6:12-13, 9:18, 11:1 and 22:39. Jesus was a man of retreat.

Defensive Retreat

The story of John the Baptist’s beheading speaks to us of our need for defensive personal retreats. Matthew 14:13 tells us that when Jesus received the devastating news of his cousin’s death, he withdrew from the hubbub, taking a boat by himself to a solitary place. Although we don’t know what Jesus was feeling, I think it’s safe to make some guesses. Jesus’ heart was heavy. He was sad, angry, aching. He desired to get away. He needed focused time with his Father.

Ever felt that way? Don’t resist to urge to pull away.

Forced Retreat

Jonah’s three-day stint in the belly of a large fish is probably one of the most unique personal retreats in the history of the world. I can’t quite imagine the stink and the slime he found there. There’s not too many travel brochures for that particular destination. Truth is – God likes to whisper, but if he can’t get our attention he’s been known to throw a brick. I’ll take a whisper over a brick any day, but forced personal retreats are good at grabbing our attention.

He’s grabbed mine.


Will you choose an offensive retreat this summer?

Get your red pen. Pick a day. Pick a half a day. Pick two hours.

Write it in blood.

Stay tuned as we’ll cover the basic “how to’s” of retreating.

Be ready for some surprises.

When was your last retreat? 

Note: This post is part of our original series on rest. We are re-posting some of our favorite articles because we believe they are just as important today as ever. We hope to encourage and inspire you and those you love and lead to REST WELL through this time of COVID-19 crisis, comeback, and recovery. Onward!

  • Would you like to start at the beginning and read this series on stillness and solitude? Click here.
  • Would you like to read the post that preceded this one? Click here.
  • Would you like to read the next post in this series? Click here.
  • Feel free to pass these on to others via email or through Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “Retreat!”

  1. Thank you for reposting this article on the importance of taking personal retreats. In light of the upheaval caused by COVID-19, carving out a purposeful chunk of time to rest and rejuvenate is now both as important and as challenging as ever, especially for parents who are now home with their kids 24/7.
    I love the framing of the idea of “Retreat!” as a battle cry. As an educator, a mom of two children under five, and a graduate student, I often wear my busyness as a badge of honor and feel that taking downtime is either impossible or inefficient. Envisioning this as a purposeful tactic reminds me that taking a retreat is not a shortcoming; it is a lifeline.
    I am encouraged to take “offensive” and “defensive” retreats before they become “forced” retreats from illness or burnout, and I will be encouraging my colleagues and fellow educators to do the same as well.

    • Megan –

      You have captured the heart of what “Retreat” and Run Hard. Rest Well. is all about.
      Explore it. Live it.
      Share the stories.
      Together – we can turn the tide and create new cultural norms!

      Amen – !

      *Brenda Jank* Executive Director 260-239-1297

      Champion Rest. Equip Leaders. Change Culture.

      Sign up for *A Rest that Works* seminar or retreat


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