Retreats have always been an important part of the spiritual journey. Dallas Willard, who writes about spiritual practices, says “It was an important day when I finally understood that if Jesus needed forty days in the wilderness.... I could probably use three of four.”
Here are six reasons why you should go on a retreat this year:
1) Jesus did it. Luke reminds us “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places…” (Luke 5:16) In Jesus’ ministry, he accomplished a lot. Performing miracles, healing, preaching, and walking all over Israel can take a lot out of a person. Yet, we never see Jesus frantically rushing. He wasn’t driven by agendas or running around at the speed of light. He lingered over meals. He sat and talked with people. He went into the mountains by himself, or walked by the sea where he experienced God’s presence. Jesus went on retreats – retreats where something significant happens. His 40 days in the wilderness was as much a retreat, as it was temptation. Retreats fueled his ministry. When Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6) maybe he implied more than we realize! Maybe his way is better than your way. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must do the things that Jesus did. Jesus retreated. Enough said.
2) You’ve got rhythm. There is a natural rhythm to life that people often want to avoid. We just can’t get around the fact that we need 8 hours of sleep, in order to be alert and functioning during the other 16 hours. There is also a rhythm to nature. Gardens need to lie fallow for a time, in order to replenish the soil. Trees lose their leaves and go dormant in winter. Something happens in the winter than can’t happen in the spring. There is a purpose to these seasons of rest! When you resist or try to rearrange the rhythm that God created in you, you miss out on the abundant life that Jesus promised. A retreat can help restore your rhythm.
3) God is awesome. Without reminding yourself of the bigger picture, the overarching story of life, you can find yourself living a small, lonely existence filled with meaningless routine. Work, fast food and Facebook can consume your life. People are more often awed by the tiny-ness of technology than the glory of God. We’re told that Jesus often went off by himself so he could pray, rest and get refreshed. He went out into the mountains and surrounding countryside to experience God’s presence, in a way that would reorient his perspective. On those retreats, whether he was alone or with a few of his friends, Jesus experienced the splendor of creation and the majesty of God. A retreat can remind you just how amazing God still is.
4) Your soul needs recharging. When the battery in your cell phone is dead, you plug it in to get it going again. You have to recharge the battery. After a busy week, or a busy season, your adrenalin levels are high. Yes, you need to achieve and accomplish stuff, but your soul was designed to recharge by not achieving and accomplishing stuff. God rested, so should you. Rest is how your soul recharges. Something happens during rest - in retreat - that cannot happen when you are living on adrenalin. Your soul needs to retreat to recharge.
5) Knowing God requires more than books. Our society is obsessed with information and education. Seminars, conferences, sermons and podcasts are everywhere! More information may look good on a resume, but it will not transform your soul. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) There is a holiness in stillness and silence. Experiencing God’s presence changes your life in a way that knowing facts about God can’t. Jesus’ parables referred to things like storms, seeds, trees and birds. Creation can teach us things about God that books and conferences can’t. A retreat that ushers you into stillness, silence and the beauty of nature helps you really get to know God.
And the best reason of all to retreat:
6) Jesus invites you. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
See you at The Oasis soon!