"...He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" Mark 6:31b (NIV 1984)
Are you an addict? I am. Sadly, my addiction is sometimes serious. And statistics indicate that many share my awful obsession. You see, I am addicted to busyness.
My habit began in high school. To escape a less-than-perfect, broken home and to numb the emotional pain I was feeling from its fallout, I stumbled upon busyness. Yep, sign me up for sports, the school newspaper, foreign language club, youth group, volunteer work and a part-time job to boot! By the time I graduated high school, I was involved in more activities than a set of triplets should be.
Unfortunately, the 'busy buzz' carried over into adulthood.
Current culture doesn't help. Society not only encourages a hectic lifestyle, it even applauds and rewards it! And what gal in her right mind doesn't want an "'atta girl" now and then?
To be an effective woman of God, however, we need to not only slow down, regularly scraping commitments off of our too-full plates, but sometimes we need to cease the frenzy altogether.
I am just coming off of a month-long Internet break and Facebook fast. No status updates, posting cute pictures or cruising the blogging super-highways for 31 days. It was both terribly hard and yet, in the end, wonderfully worth it.
During my break, I hunkered down at a 1950's retreat center. Dorm-like with its cinder block rooms, it is very inexpensive ($10 a day), and yet, set in a lovely slice of nature: hills overlooking a grape arbor, a fragrant pear and apple orchard.
Even though it is near impossible to break away from life, I come here sometimes to get alone with God; to read; ponder; write and reflect.
I walk the white pine and perennial-laced grounds in solitude. There are no blaring television sets, internet connections or ringing phones; only unfamiliar, but blessed, quiet.
It has taken me YEARS to get used to this ceasing of activity for occasional 24-48 hour periods of time each year. I fret and fuss as I am packing. "What about the kids? Oh, maybe I should just stay home. I could get caught up with so many tasks and projects. Am I being selfish by going away alone?"
But Christ beckons me, and He beckons you. It is the theme of today's key verse: "Come with me by yourselves...."
Alone. By yourself and for yourself. It is for our own good.
And, most of all, it is necessary. When we retreat we can best hear from God who often prefers not to scream over the sounds of our busy lives, but instead gently whispers to us in the quiet alone.
We can't always afford the time and money to physically leave our home. However, occasionally we can intentionally unplug. We can focus our hearts and center our minds on the Word and His words to us for a good chunk of a day.
Perhaps you could even find a friend who wants to do the same. Maybe trade off watching each other's kids. Or even trade homes. (You'll be less distracted at your friend's and most likely won't feel the urge to fold her laundry or mop her floor!)
Yes, in the Christian life retreat is required. Even Jesus Himself had regular times of rest and withdrawal. He leads by His example. Why not consider today a time, very soon, that you too will cease, retreat and refuel. You won't regret it.
Dear Lord, forgive me for ignoring Your command to come away with You for a while. Please arrange my circumstances so that I might spend uninterrupted time with You. May I drink deep of Your lavish love and receive the calm and comfort I crave that only comes from You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Put pen to paper and craft a pie chart of your life. What percent of the time do you spend each month on these various activities: working-away or at home; sleeping; eating; caring for kids; homemaking; church; outside activities; hobbies; Internet or television; etc...?
Evaluate how much time you spend alone with God. Not "going to church and church activities," but rather you and God alone? Now take a look at the chart in front of you. How would you like to see it change?
When was the last time I slowed down, cleared my calendar for at least an afternoon and connected with Jesus all alone?
What was the result? Why don't I do it more often?
Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls." (Amplified Bible)
Psalm 131:1-2, "O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me." (ESV)
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