I have had a lot going on and on my mind recently, and this retreat was needed more than I knew this weekend. In the opening session, the retreat leader shared a verse from Mark 6, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (v.31). That is exactly what my soul needed this weekend. We were encouraged to bring an object that represented what we were bringing into the retreat. My object was a pillow, because I have felt so tired, physically, emotionally, and sometimes spiritually. The first night I learned I have been setting up idols of comfort in my life, seeking peace from things that weren't from the Lord, when God was the one who wanted to sustain me and give me "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:6), and that all I can do is show up and show love, knowing that God promises my work is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), even when I feel like I haven't made a difference.
The next morning we prayed through Exodus 18. I received so much from the Holy Spirit while reading through this passage of Scripture, and I'm not going to share it all here, but the Lord spoke comfort and direction to me through this chapter, and it is just what I needed to hear. Just as Jethro communicated to Moses that he was not supposed to go it alone, God has been revealing what that means for me, especially regarding the lies I have believed, and He spoke truth over me.
In the afternoon (after some killer Cardio Kickboxing to get our blood flowing) we did a Visio Divina activity with Psalm 131 and the painting below. As we were guided to reflect on this image, two things stood out to me. The first was how this mother was holding the rather large child. Only one arm is supporting the child, yet the mother does not look to be straining under the weight at all. Through this God spoke to me that the weight of my burdens is not too much for Him. He can handle it, and will sustain me, if I will just rest and allow Him to. Secondly, I noticed the ground underneath the grass and flowers was white, which in my mind translated to snow. Although there was snow on the ground, life was still springing up. God told me that He is able to make new, beautiful life, even in the midst of a hard winter or desert season (desert is a word that He has been bringing up a lot to me lately since our pastor preached on it two weeks ago).
In the evening a DIY at home facial was part of the retreat. The leader explained how part of the priests' duty in the Old Testament was upkeep and maintenance of the temple - this was part of their worship. Now, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and we should see the daily tasks we do to tend to our bodies as acts of worship as well.
Finally, today we did a guided contemplation of Mark 4:35-41. As we closed our eyes the leader challenged us to place ourselves in the scene and experience it with Jesus and the disciples, focusing on senses and emotions. I found myself relieved to be in the boat with Jesus, away from the crowds (that's the introvert in me!), and I saw the exhaustion on Jesus's face as we pulled out to sea. When the storm came upon us and we woke Jesus from His sleep, I saw the sadness in His eyes, and when He looked at me and asked "Why are you afraid?" the first thing that came to my mind was "Because I didn't understand." I didn't understand Jesus and His power, not only to calm the wind and the waves, but to calm me in the midst of the chaos of my own life.
As I said, this retreat weekend has been so refreshing. The leader went back to that Mark 6 verse in the closing session, and afterwards when I looked it up online, I found that this is how the King James Version reads:
"And he said unto them,
Come ye yourselves apart
into a desert place,
and rest a while."
The desert place doesn't have to be bad. I think that's the view I had of the desert before, but it can be a good place. A place that God calls you to go to. And a place where HE will refresh you, because there is literally nothing else there that can. The things God has spoken to me during this retreat will be things I need to continually sit on and pray on. Some need to be acted upon, but not right away. Most of all, I just need to obey, to come away with Him to the quiet, desert place, and rest a while.