"Life in the fast lane, Surely make you lose your mind,
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time...." - The Eagles
It was announced at our church that we were going to have our first Women's Retreat. Groan..... Not being Madame Social Butterfly, and being turned off by the typical women's retreat - described by a like-minded friend as a slumber parties for grown-ups with fluff, warm fuzzies and lots of tears for spiritual sustenance (you can tell we hadn't been thrilled from past experience) - I unenthusiastically signed up. After all, an Elder's wife ought to set the example, right? Some example.
The theme of the retreat was "Rest". Sounds good, but how on earth do you do that? SCHEDULE rest? That sounded like an oxymoron. Besides, I'm too busy to set aside time to just rest and do nothing. Boy, was I wrong.
"What keeps any of us from growing (spiritually) is not sin, but speed... We live life in the fast lane because we have no slow lanes anymore. Every lane is fast and the only comfort our culture can offer is more lanes and increased speed limits.
Spiritual growth is not running faster, as in more meetings, more Bible studies, and more prayer meetings. Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down.
"If we want to meet Jesus, we cannot do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest stop. While the church earnestly warns Christians to watch out for the devil, the devil is sitting in the congregation encouraging every one to keep busy doing "good things"... Jesus came to forgive us of all our sins, including the sin of busyness. The problem with growth in the modern church is not the slowness of growth, but the rushing of growth. Jesus came to give us rest." -Mike Yaconnelli, Messy Spirituality
If Jesus Himself went away regularly to be alone with the Father, why would I ever think that I shouldn't as well? Doesn't daily Bible reading hack it? Snatching prayer times throughout the day as I go about my business? MY business. Jesus told his parents that He came to be about His Father's business. Hmmm..... It sounds like that the first thing needed in gaining that rest promised by the Father is to lay down my own agenda.
"Personal retreats are not about me and what I'm going to do to experience God. Personal retreats are about the Lord and what He what to do in me when I'm willing to slow down and listen... Over time I noticed two specific gifts that regularly emerged from my private encounters with the Lord: stillness and rest. Together, these two gifts can replenish our souls, restore a sense of God's holiness and sovereignty, and strengthen our resolve to serve Him." - Brenda Jank
"Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile." - Mark 6:31-32
This was Jesus' direction, His invitation to His disciples after they had been out ministering to the people, and after they had suffered the loss of John the Baptist. They were depleted and didn't realize it - but Jesus did - and He interrupted their agendas to call them aside to rest.
"For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
'In repentance and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'
But you were unwilling......'
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to be merciful to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him." - Isaiah 30: 15 and 18
"Come away, my Beloved!" He cries to His children. Come away to a desolate place and I will be your rest. Quietness and trust will be your strength."
Not my agenda. Not my ideas. But, His presence.
I guess a Womens' Retreat really can be about Rest after all.