Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sound the Retreat

“After doing so, Jesus went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” Matthew 14: 23

Do you realize that even Jesus needed mountain top experiences of quiet and prayer in order to be refreshed? Yes, even Jesus went on “retreat”. So often we may think of the word retreat from a military perspective and thin that it somehow conveys weakness or cowardice. But the exact opposite is true. Normally when an army sounds the retreat, it is a wise decision, understanding the strength of the enemy and realizing their own lack of strength, numbers, position or determination. Thus they retreat in order to re-group, get reinforced, find better ground from which to fight or obtain better weapons to fight with. And then they GO BACK INTO BATTLE.

And so it is with us in the spiritual journey. We are certainly in a battle. Our enemy is Satan and he does not sleep, rest, stop to eat or back off in his relentless desire to tempt us and see us fall into his snares. And he surprises us and attacks us with noise and stress and the busyness of school, work, family, friends, entertainment and activities. Always keeping us tired and occupied, so that we never stop to re-group or renew our souls.

This is why retreats are so important. A retreat is a chance to take a step back from our normal lives and all the noise and activities, all the electronics and influences of the culture and just BE with God and other likeminded people. It is a chance to be quiet, to pray more, to laugh, to let go of the burdens that cling to your mind, heart and soul. To go up on that mountain with Jesus and breath deeply. Not to run away, not to avoid our lives or our problems. Not to pretend we are not living with hurt or distress or issues. But to climb up to Jesus and let Him heal us, hold us, forgive us, love us. To let Him strengthen us and fill us with His peace. Not so that we can stay on that mountain forever, but so that when we do come back down, we have the perspective and the weapons necessary to fight our enemy with renewed vigor and purpose.

A retreat can be literally and physically going away for a period of days, but it should also be a short period of time each day, where we turn off the phones and computers and TV’s and just spend some time “retreating” with God in the quiet. Where we think about the BIG questions in life and ask for His guidance and direction. A time where we not only talk to God, but also listen to God. It is in these special moments of grace that our lives will change and we will stop losing the battle and gain the strength to fight furiously for our own souls and the souls of others.

Dear Jesus, help me to retreat with You each day and when given the opportunity to spend time apart from my normal life to seek You on the mountain top so that I can come back to my normal life ready and equipped to do battle with the Evil One and reign victorious with You. Amen.

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