Last week I was blessed to spend my annual “week-away” retreat. This year, I went to the Mary & Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, overlooking the LA basin from 1200 feet. It was beautiful, cool, and conducive to what my soul needed: to rest, rejuvenate and restore.
I spent the week mostly doing “nothing.” Actually, what I was doing was very important, but someone looking on from the outside would have thought I was doing very little! I spent the week reading, praying, listening to beautiful music, looking at beautiful views, and just pondering God’s creation and my place in it. I finished one book and got about a third of the way into another one. I quieted my busy brain down so that I could hear the “still, small voice” of God. It was wonderful!
Most of you know that I am a big believer in retreats, camps, and otherwise withdrawing from the busy-ness of life and doing what Jesus did, “he withdrew from there … to a desolate place by himself… to pray.” (Matt. 14:13, 23) My ideal plan is to observe a Sabbath day each week (mine is usually Friday), a “day-away” retreat each month, and a “week-away” retreat each year. I need such times to de-stress and renew my relationship with the Lord. I know that not everyone can follow such a plan, but getting away to reconnect with Jesus is important for every follower. So, whether that be something as formal as my plan, or something less formal and spontaneous when the opportunity presents itself doesn’t matter. Jesus needed to get away and connect with His Father; so do we!
Cyndy has been completely supportive of my need to retreat. Now, one might suggest that she likes to get rid of me so that she can not be bothered by my presence! But that is not the case. She knows how important it is for me, and she supports me, allowing me to go away and to not feel guilty for doing so. Being a pastor is a stressful life, not as stressful as some vocations, maybe, but stressful nevertheless. And it is the kind of vocation that requires a lot of giving of oneself to others. As an introvert, this is exhausting! So, getting away to retreat helps me to recharge and reset myself so that I can be a more effective pastor (and husband, and father, and…).
So, how can “normal” Christians (not pastors, in other words) get away on retreats and Sabbaths? By making the decision to do so, planning for it, and arranging one’s life so that it is possible. It’s really that simple, and yet I know it is challenging for many, especially for those with small children. But it can be done, and we can help each other to do so. I would encourage you to work with your small group or circle of friends in the church to facilitate such days of retreat and Sabbath. And if you would like to know more (I have lots of resources), just ask me!
I’m thankful to The Fount family for the generosity they give to me, to allow me time away to regenerate and refresh. It makes me a better pastor!