Originally published Thursday, 01 September 2016.
For some time, I have felt overdrawn. Each day, as I went about my tasks and took care of my family, I went to bed a bit more depleted.
I felt like an aluminum bucket of water. Every morning, God would pour into my bucket as I went to him in the Word. But the needs of my day exhausted the water. Each need was like a hole in my bucket that allowed me -- or required me -- to pour water over that task, that person, that concern, that project.
It began to feel like the water was pouring out of the holes faster than I was getting filled by God. For the last few weeks, I’ve been scraping the bottom of the bucket and nearly emptied, I knew I needed a spiritual reset.
This week, I finally carved out a day for a spiritual retreat. I got away by myself -- to just sit at Jesus’ feet without a deadline and with nothing pressing me to get up and get back to work.
My only real agenda was to immerse myself in the Living Water and to recast a vision for my walk with God, for this season I’m in, for the work He’s given me and for my family.
It has been good. I am refreshed and more importantly, I have a renewed vision for all that I see God doing.
When reading a biography of Mother Teresa a few years ago, I was impressed with her commitment to take this kind of spiritual retreat every year. She began the practice as a young novitiate and continued every year, despite the demands on her time, the overwhelming need and all of her responsibilities locally and globally.
In fact, it was on her annual spiritual retreat where she first heard her “call within a call” to leave the convent in Calcutta and minister to the poorest of the poor.
Jesus also stepped away for spiritual refilling and taught his disciples the practice as well.
“…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:17
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31
We understand the busyness of coming and going. We get not having a chance to eat – or to eat well – on some days.
Phone calls, texts, stacks of papers in the to-do pile, people that need meals prepared and cleaned up, “Mom, can you pick me up?” and “Mom, I need your help” all had me at a place where I was bone dry – needing deep breaths, my own thoughts and space to hear God’s.
Creating Spiritual Retreat
Retreat means to step back or draw back. My retreats have four essentials:
- time in a quiet place away from my people and distraction
- my Bible
- a journal or notebook (this free printable journal)
- a list of questions and prompts to work through
This isn’t a planning day for me. It’s not a day to schedule out the year’s schooling, put together a new chore system or align my calendar.
A spiritual retreat is where, first, I spend generous time in the Word. I don’t read the Word to teach it or to write about it. It is soul-deep replenishment for me.
Second, a spiritual retreat allows me generous time for prayer. Some of it is formal prayer but most of it is an ongoing conversation as I work through prompts and listen to God’s direction.
Casting a Vision
Finally, I work through a spiritual assessment and questions that help me study where God has been moving; what is working and what needs to be changed; and areas of need for me, our family and each of my children.
The perspective I get when I step back and really examine life is amazing. It helps me to take stock of our lives, to be proactive and to make choices for the year rather than just react to those things that blare the loudest.
And always, life rights itself as time and prayer and God’s Word replenish me.
I've created a 19-page printable Personal Spiritual Retreat Journal for all email subscribers. This journal includes space for thanksgiving, confession, assessment, prayer prompts and more. You can get this free journal when you subscribe here.