Yes, don’t you wish you were saying “retreat time” right now and heading out for a weekend at your favorite place…alone or with a few people? Me too!
I’m so grateful for those week long stays at my favorite place, the Gulf Coast beach. Last year my husband and I began a new tradition: a month at the beach! Sometimes I have to schedule it around speaking engagements, or as I will do this year, fly from Perdido Key (via Pensacola) to the East coast, Miami! But that extended time of rest and reflection is something I truly look forward to.
When I was in full time vocational ministry, that one fall beach trip was my way to take a deep breath and STOP the crazy pace for a week. I didn’t try to accomplish work (didn’t always do great on that but sure slowed my pace at least). I didn’t want to study hard and I didn’t want to make decisions. The biggest decision for my day was: where do we eat tonight? I did want to spend quiet time doing nothing, just being with my husband, and just enjoying God’s presence in unhurried time with Him. He speaks loudly to me at the beach in my quiet life there!
Those times away were essential in a hectic life filled with responsibilities, work, family and travel. But, once a year retreating from all that into real rest is just not enough to carry us, so what do we do? I’d love to be able to enjoy the relaxation of the Gulf waters outside my window all the time, but that is not my reality.
You may love retreating to the mountains. Although I prefer the coast, this photo I took at a mountain retreat relaxes me just to look at it.
But if we can’t be at our favorite retreat place often enough, what do we do in between those retreats? Stay stressed and exhausted?
In Mark 6:31, Jesus invites us to “come away” by ourselves to take a break and get a little rest because as He mentions, “…there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.” Imagine the Son of God too busy to eat, but able to fulfill each assignment His Father had for Him. He accomplished in 3 years of earthly ministry EVERYTHING to fulfill His earthly life’s purpose. How did He do it?
We read in multiple places that Jesus “went away by Himself”. The disciples often found Him on a mountain alone. Jesus knew that if He was to complete His Father’s work on earth, He had to spend time alone with the Father. He retreated not just once a year at the beach on the Sea of Galilee, He found ways to take mini-retreats to refresh and restore so He could work efficiently.
So what does that mean to us? Yes, we know we must have time alone with the Father daily, so that’s a given. If you aren’t doing this, may I challenge you to start with 5 minutes a day? You will find that you want more than 5 minutes as you read His Word, pray and meditate on Him and His work in and through your life. The more I know of Him, the more I realize I don’t know about Him and the more time I want to spend getting to know Him!
Let me give you 8 practical tips for finding restful retreats on a continual basis so you can accomplish all God desires for you:
- Schedule an extended prolonged time away from “normal” life to be quiet and rest. It might be to the mountains, the beach, or another RESTFUL place. Staycations often aren’t restful so maybe it’s a guest room in a friend’s home! Be creative.
- Find what ever gives you a sense of rest and bring it home. It may be candles, flowers, photos or music. For me rest means beach so my home is decorated “beach”. Because the first night I slept to the sound of ocean waves I knew it was the best sleep E.V.E.R., I have a wave machine in our bedroom along with gentle music piped in 24 hours a day. I have a deck with a fountain since that ‘s the closest thing to being on the water I have at home. Surround yourself with things that remind you of your place of rest and restoration.
- Take a 5 minute retreat when you get home from work or after you drop kids off at school. Stop, sit, maybe drink a cup of coffee or glass of sparkling water. Quiet your mind and allow Jesus to restore your heart.
- Make it a priority! Block off the time on your calendar or to-do list so something doesn’t get scheduled over it.
- Schedule a day every month or at least every 6 months to get away to reflect on your calendar, assignments, family responsibilities. Ask God how to manage it all and to speak to you about any changes you need to make. Go to a park and just sit and pray!
- Make recreation a part of your rest! I love kayaking so for me it is not just good exercise, it’s peaceful to be on a lake with #MoDawg (our 7 pound Yorkie) and my husband.
- Do crossword puzzles or games that allow you to solve a problem or free up your mind, something that has nothing to do with the work or tasks bombarding your mind all the time.
- Listen to praise music in chaos to quiet your heart and mind.
Find a healthy way on an ongoing basis to “veg out” and get still; resting from the daily-ness of life so you can have the strength to accomplish all God has created you to do on this earth. It’s our way to not only survive, but thrive in the busy world we occupy.
How do YOU retreat?