Learning to retreat

Took a spiritual retreat today. My sweet husband took over the homeschooling for the day. I left the house before the kids got up, just long enough to write out assignments for the older ones and to lay out books for our youngest. I ran out as fast as I could seeing that I am highly distractable and a pile of dishes soon could be beckoning me home.

I went to my parents home which is empty for the day. They're returning from a trip this evening so it worked out. After brewing that important first cup of coffee I sat down on the couch with my pile of books, my Bible and my journal. I began as I always do. Writing out blessings, things for which I'm so thankful for.

  • Johanna's 6 teeth that were successfully pulled
  • Elijah's 2 teeth that were yanked out yesterday- thankful he's not too mad at us!
  • For a day to rest and quiet down, to reflect and to pray
  • That I'm an extrovert and a day retreat will energize me for the month
  • For seasons
  • For the Father's love, so extravagant and beyond understanding
The act of sitting down requires great discipline. It's a reprogramming, a redefining of the word "productive" or "efficient". I would have laughed at anyone who suggested taking a spiritual retreat to me a few years ago. Don't you see my quiver is very full and my home is very messy? There's homeschooling, ministry, people to see and to call, food to be made, a bike to repair, stairs to climb..... Busy! This past year's journey has included deliberate moments of slowing down. Saying no to the urgent, tuning ears to listen, and turning my heart to Jesus.

It's funny how I can so easily be all about the ministry, but not all about God. I read a quote this morning that reflected this sentiment. " (we) must be on our good lest beginning too soon to preach (minister) they rather chatter themselves into Christianity than live themselves into it and find themselves at home there." 

I grabbed Foster's book on Prayer this morning on my way out. My over ambitious heart wants to read everything today. Anyone who's read this book can testify it's not a "quick read" but rather one that stirs up great reflection and thought regarding the matter of prayer and it most likely will take me a long time to get through it. As I flip through the pages I can see I've read this before. Probably 16 years ago when I was mature, after all I was in seminary and headed overseas. I had highlighted some pretty good points, but I can also see that I stopped reading at chapter 5. The Prayer of Relinquishment, Foster calls it.

I feel the Spirit's prodding. He does that. We ask that He will speak to us, show us where we need to grow, show us what things we are still holding onto.... And He does.
I journaled this morning about fears. Fear of the future easily holds my heart captive. We're in the beautiful Northwest right now, and we return to the smoggy city we call home in 2 months. Scripture this morning spoke from I Peter 4 on suffering, about entering the sufferings of Christ. I went on a long walk with Jesus to talk about that with Him. I came home and flipped open to this chapter on Relinquishment and I wonder, are you speaking to me today, Lord?

The great thing about it is that as Foster says it, "we're not locked into a preset, determinist future. We are co-laborers with God, as Paul put it- working with God to determine the outcome of events. Therefore our prayer efforts are a genuine give and take, a true dialogue with God- and a true struggle." I can be honest. I can wrestle with the Lord in prayer. Yet, my will needs to be surrendered moment by moment as I face decisions about my family, ministry, home, future.

Foster describes five kinds of prayer. The prayer of self-emptying where we meditate through Philippians 2 which describes Christ who emptied Himself. The prayer of surrender, going with Jesus in prayer to the Garden of Gethsemane, invited God into our lives, surrendering our will to Him. The prayer of abandonment, allowing God to specify what needs to be laid at His feet. The prayer of release, lifting up our loved ones to the Lord, placing our future, hopes and dreams into His hands, and trusting Him to care for everything. Finally, the prayer of resurrection where we pray, "Lord, bring back to life what will please you and advance your kingdom. Let it come in the form you desire. Let it be in your time and in your way. Thank you, Lord, for resurrection."

It's near the end of my day, and I have to go back home. I have a skype call in an hour. I can take with me these words from the Lord. I can release to Him again all that I am. I can fall into His arms and trust Him to catch me.

Found this picture of Micah at 2 behind the wheel. We're kind of like that with God. We like it behind the wheel. :)

Comments

  1. I was captivated reading this post... just pulled into your heart-words, your reflective day, His words to you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of your day with Him. Love you friend. ...feels we did just have a cup a together. just for a moment.

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  2. I love this picture :)

    Joy

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