Taking an extended retreat in the midst of Christmas busyness feels totally counterintuitive. But here I am, in a cozy cabin set aside for pastors to retreat and rest, taking a few days to step away from the craziness and seek God’s direction for the coming year. As hard as it is to set work and family responsibilities aside in order to carve out this kind of time alone with God, I am really grateful for it.
The exclamation “Run for your life!” calls a person to frantic activity in order to save their life. (And certainly, if something dangerous is coming at you, you should run for your life!) “Retreat for your life!” is the opposite—rather than a call to frantic activity, it is the counterintuitive call to unhurried rest in God, believing that is where depth of life is found. The world around us looks for life by working harder or working longer or working faster, but activity on its own does not automatically produce life. Instead, responding to Jesus’ invitation to come to Him and learn from Him and find rest in Him is often what it takes to “recover your life” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)… and that is what a retreat is for.
So I follow Jesus’ example of regularly withdrawing to desolate places to pray (Luke 5:16). I learn from Him how to create that space in order to be filled by Him (which is what the Greek word for “withdraw” literally means). And I thank God for a family that blesses me with this time, and for a ministry like The Oaks who provides a place like this to get away.