In the midst of our fast-paced and demanding lives, finding moments of solitude and retreat can feel like an elusive dream or something reserved for those with an abundance of time. “I can’t spend a whole day (or week) away!” we say to ourselves. “What will happen to my ________ (team, family, ministry) without me?” or “I’m just too busy.”
But the truth is…personal retreats are not an indulgence; they are an essential component of our spiritual well-being as Christians.
When we intentionally set aside dedicated time to reconnect with our loving Father, something beautiful happens. In those moments, we have the opportunity to re-encounter the power of the gospel, open ourselves up to experience profound blessings as God’s children, and experience the spiritual growth that we so deeply long for.
So, let’s explore three compelling reasons why carving out time for personal retreats should be a top priority in our lives.
1. Taking a Retreat is What Jesus Modeled For Us
When it comes to the significance of personal retreats, we can look no further than the example set by Jesus Himself.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus demonstrated the pattern of engagement and disengagement. He worked tirelessly, pouring Himself into teaching, healing, and serving others with unwavering dedication (Mark 1:21-34). However, even in the midst of all of it, Jesus recognized the vital importance of seeking solitude with God.
We see this exemplified in the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus withdraws to a solitary place early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35-39). He intentionally carves out time to commune with His Heavenly Father.
Jesus understood that His connection with God was foundational to His ministry and personal well-being.
Furthermore, Jesus extends this understanding to His disciples. After intense periods of ministry, we witness Him leading His disciples away for a retreat, seeking a place of rest and rejuvenation (Mark 6:30-34). In doing so, Jesus recognizes the importance of not only physical rest but also spiritual renewal. He creates a space for His followers to step away from the demands of their work and find solace in the presence of God.
Let’s follow in the footsteps of Jesus, embracing personal retreats to replenish our souls for the work He has called us to do.
2. Balancing Church and Personal Retreats
In our spiritual journey, it’s not a matter of choosing between engaging in our local church and intentional periods of personal retreat, but rather understanding the complementary relationship that exists between them.
Indeed, by participating in small groups, ministry teams, worship services, and fellowship, we engage in a vibrant community, finding support and accountability—all aspects that are integral to our growth as followers of Christ.
However, personal retreats also hold a unique role—deepening our relationship with our heavenly Father on a more individual level.
Through private prayer, meditation, Scripture reflection, journaling, and silence, we open ourselves up to encounter the unexpected.
Free from distractions and the demands of daily life, stepping away from our familiar surroundings and routines–opens up space so that God can speak to our hearts, bring clarity to our thoughts, and shape us into the individuals He designed us to be.
And not just for our sake. By investing in our own deep spiritual well-being, we become better equipped to live out our faith with authenticity and integrity, impacting our relationships, work, and service to others.
So, let’s embrace this “both/and” perspective and see how church community and personal retreats harmoniously nourish us and enable us to extend God’s grace to the world.
3. Overcoming the “Busy” Mentality
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: many of us have the tendency to equate busyness with importance and success, causing us to resist taking time away and spending it with Jesus.
But the truth is…God can and will accomplish His purposes without us. He doesn’t “need” us. In fact, We may be surprised to discover just how replaceable we are in the grand tapestry of His plan. Yet, in His graciousness, He invites us to be part of His divine work.
Rather than burdening ourselves with worries and obligations, we can embrace the call and privilege of stepping away from the busyness and entering into the presence of our Savior.
By prioritizing time with Jesus, we are acknowledging that tending to our souls is an essential aspect of our “work” as faithful disciples. In these quiet moments, we can receive His guidance, find refreshment and strength, and better love and serve others.
So, if Jesus says, “Hey, come hang out with Me today,” we can rest assured that He will take care of the rest of our needs.
Overcoming the “busy” mentality does require intentional planning and consideration for others. But by discussing retreat plans in advance, we can avoid abandoning responsibilities. We can collaborate with our teammates and loved ones without demanding to be allowed retreat days. And when we do take time away, we can explore ways to extend the same opportunity to others by offering to take care of their children or share in their tasks, so they can experience the gift of retreat.
Let’s accept the call to set aside time for God, trusting that He will take care of our commitments. We can find solace in knowing that a retreat is not a personal indulgence but is a part of our responsibility to God and others.
Carving Out Sacred Space
And lastly, whether you’re considering a day, a weekend, or even a week-long retreat, our prayer is that it ignites a renewed joy in your walk with Jesus.
If you still find yourself hesitant or unsure about taking time away, don’t hesitate to talk with Jesus about it! Let Him know you’re struggling. He delights in meeting us where we are and changing our desires and softening our hearts.
In the end, we hope you embrace the invitation to retreat. The path awaits, and Jesus eagerly awaits your presence.