"And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.'"--Mark 6:30 What do you think of this invitation from Jesus? I have a feeling that some of you would jump at the opportunity. Come away? Desolate place? Rest? Sign me up!
But I also have a feeling that there are some of you that would also think: Come away? Desolate place? Rest? No way! I'd be buried alive!
This particular discipline is one that is near and dear to me, not because I am more spiritual and better, but it is through this discipline that God has done His deepest work in me. In fact, I don't think I would be here today, writing to you, teaching, and speaking if I didn't discover this. Here's my backstory. Pardon me if you've already heard this.
Back in 2003, I was a mess. (Okay, so I'm usually a mess, but this year was messier than the rest.) I was working part time hours, which as you know in ministry, is never just part time. I had two young children and had just made the decision to homeschool. I was involved in a small group, leading another small group, discipling young women, and helping my husband train leaders. On top of that, I had a small business teaching paper crafting classes. Oh, and of course, there was the regular work to do, like laundry, dishes and cleaning!
I would go to bed late and get up early, driven by my schedule. Every spare minute was spent trying to get ahead...but most of the time, it was just trying to keep from being swallowed alive. I was constantly stressed and my poor children were taking the backlash. There was an edge of anger in me that I had to work very hard to control. I did not like who I was becoming inside and felt like such a hypocrite.
It was at that time that my husband was invited to join a 2-year leaders' training program with The Leadership Institute, based in Orange County. Over the course of those two years, the group would meet six times, three times a year, for a few days of solitude, training and mentoring.
It sounded great, but my first thought was "One more thing!" He even invited me to go and my first thought was "No way!" I was overwhelmed as it was. To take that much time off from my schedule to get away? It made absolutely no sense.
I don't even remember what happened, but by the grace of God, I found myself at that very first retreat. Dan sensed that I needed it more than him and sent me off. On our first full day there, we spent most of the morning and afternoon in solitude and silence. "That's an interesting way to start a retreat," I thought. I expected lectures, talks, etc., which we did have...eventually. But the first part of the retreat was carved out to just be with God.
All I can say is WOW. It had been so long since I had an opportunity to just be, not do. I didn't realize how deeply exhausted I was, not just in body, but in soul, until I stopped. I didn't get anything done. But at the same time, I realized that life can and does go on without me.
When I went home after that first retreat, I was hooked. In the space of that time, God had touched and ministered to me in such a way that I have never been the same again. I became addicted to these times and craved being with Him more and more. While I was still busy, He removed my addiction to activity, the praise of other people, and the delusions of my own importance.With time, I completed the two year training, and my whole outlook has changed.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus, busy and wanted as He was, was able to walk through His life here on earth so confidently, serenely and purposefully? I have a strong suspicion that it was because He had periods of solitude and silence in His life. The first 40 days of his ministry was spent in the wilderness (check out the video below of what He might have done during this time). He spent regular times early in the morning, before the start of a busy day of ministry, to be with God. And He invited His disciples to take that same kind of rest at the end of the day. Jesus knew the value of pulling aside and just sitting with the Father, doing "nothing."
In today's journal, I'll be looking more into the whys and the hows of this discipline. Just sign in on this page for the journal using your password. Where's the password, you ask? Well, it is given out to newsletter subscribers. Just sign up in the boxes on the right and look for the welcome email. It'll be in the "PS" section.
Moms, we of all people, who are often so busy, at the beck and call of every person, need this discipline. It is not an option. It is an essential. Solitude and silence is counter-intuitive. It makes no sense. But when you take that step of faith, you'll find that it makes perfect sense.
Come away with Him. You'll never regret it.