Last night I arrived at Singing Hills Christian Conference Center near Lebanon, NH for a personal retreat. I have been going on retreats for the last 15 years. It is a practice I started early on as a Christian.
Over the years, I have experienced many profound experiences while setting some time aside to be with Jesus. My love for retreats (especially in secluded places) was probably somewhat rooted in my “outdoorsy” upbringing. I grew up a country boy in Northwestern Pennsylvania and regularly hunted, fished, camped and hiked. But regardless of whether or not you like the outdoors, here’s why I think everyone should do at least a yearly personal retreat.
1) We need refreshing. Life is hard. It’s easy to get out of sync. To get weary. To get worn down. We need some time just to be with God – however you do that. For me it’s walks in the woods and countless hours in prayer and worship. Retreats allow me to do just that.
When I arrived in New Hampshire last night around 8pm, I got out of the car and looked up. To my surprise, I could see stars! Spending most of my time in a major metropolitan area I’ve realized it’s really hard to see stars because of the light produced by the city. I’ve gotten accustomed to not looking up at the sky very often. Most of the time I look down or straight ahead. What a tragedy! I was reminded to look up! As soon as I looked at the beautiful stars I felt refreshed. That does it for me.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1 NIV)
Maybe looking at the stars isn’t a way you connect with God but what is? People connect with Jesus in different ways. You don’t have to do what I do but you do need to be refreshed and a personal retreat will help you do that. Maybe for you it’s going to a coffee shop and reading a great book for hours. Or taking a long walk on the beach. Or riding your bike. Or playing your guitar. My wife doesn’t particularly like going to the middle of nowhere and locking herself in a room for 2 or 3 days. She would rather go to the beach or just go to a hotel overnight where there are other people around. So find out what works for you and do it!
2) Taking a retreat allows you to focus on what’s most important – your relationship with Jesus. Is there a more important relationship? Most married couples I know would say it’s good for them to get “alone time” whether it’s in the form of a date, a weekend away or time in the bedroom (by the way guys if you haven’t prioritized time with your wife in the form of dates and spending time alone together this would be a good time to do that. You and your wife need that).
The point is, relationships need to be fostered. Taking a personal retreat is a good way to kick start that.
3) A retreat is a time to realign and refocus. We all get off track sometimes. We recently put new tires on our minivan. Whenever you do that, the shop suggests you also get an alignment to make sure the tires don’t wear unevenly and have long life. Retreats allow us to refocus and realign.
4) Retreats allow us to gain fresh perspective. My friend Mark Batterson says, “change of place + change of pace = change of perspective.” You need to see your situation through God’s eyes and through His perspective. One God idea is worth a thousand good ideas. In order to do that you need some unbroken time to spend with God. You need time to stop and think.
Here is the call for every Christian, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
How do you practice this Scripture?
What to do on your personal retreat
- Take a journal – whether it’s your computer or a pen and pad, do some writing. Log what God is speaking to you and doing in your life.
- Don’t rush: pray, walk, rest and enjoy.
- Try some fasting, it will enhance and intensify your spiritual experience. If you are not up for a fast, eat and enjoy it! God just wants to be with you.
- Read your Bible, pray and worship. Get to know God better.
- Take a good book you’ve been wanting to read.
Why not schedule a retreat right now? What do you have to lose? I dare you!
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