Retreats and Advances

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)

For every retreat in one’s life, there must be an advance. Retreats with no advance are a waste of time, energy, and money. Unless there is something that we are advancing in our world, then a retreat misses the point.

In our passage, Jesus has just come off a busy Sabbath day, casting out demons and healing the sick. He’s exhausted. So, he retreats to a solitary place and finds strength and new vitality through prayer. Jesus is immediately pushed back into the world for the advancement of the kingdom.

We don’t believe in Jesus until we are acting like Jesus. Most Christians talk about believing in Jesus, thinking about Jesus, and even know about Jesus, but because we don’t act like Jesus we miss the whole point. Jesus prayed, Jesus retreated, because he needed to. He was praying because he needed power to do the kingdom.

Retreats are preparation for confrontation. A confrontation of a real world situation, a crisis we are facing, an injustice in the world. Retreats are for some advancement in our city where satan is winning the battle and God has called you to fight for an advance of love and righteousness.

It takes a risk to live like Jesus. Thomas Merton once told an assembly of Cistercian Abbots that they should stop accepting any candidates for the monastery who had not weathered at least one spiritual crisis in their lives and come out positive and hopeful.

So, what are the reasons for a retreat that leads to an advancement? I see three purposes.

Restoring. Retreats restore our intimacy with God. When we take time each day or attend a weekend retreat, it should be primarily for restoring our intimacy with Jesus.

Replenishing. Retreats should replenish us mind, body, and spirit. Our emotions and even our bodies are affected by our spirits and vice versa. When we have been ministering to others, our whole human system is impacted.

Replacing. When we are giving out to others, we need time for restoring our energy. Spiritual, emotional, and physical energy needs to be replace with fresh vision and joy. Retreats can provide such an atmosphere.

Life’s circumstances, difficult battles, hardships are all the stuff of advancement. We don’t think ourselves into new life, we live our lives into new thinking. Retreats are only good for those who are advancing.

Advance into new life today. Find a ministry, find a hurting person, discover an injustice and take the risk, live like Jesus. It will bring amazing grace into your times of solitude and prayer.

On the Road,

Steve

The Road Less Traveled