“Welcome” said the sign above the door.
Welcome to what? I wondered. A retreat? A vacation? A writer’s getaway? A prayer retreat? A time to catch up on the mountain of reading I’ve been setting aside?
I drove the 110 miles to the Heartland Conference Retreat Center* trying to figure out what I should call this gift of alone-time I was given.
I’ve been aching to write with consistency and productivity, something I had not been doing. This should be a writer’s getaway, then. Writing helps me process life; it’s good for my soul.
But I was tired, and felt empty.
Should this be a prayer retreat? Yes, I probably will pray, since, like breathing, I find I can not live without it. But intercession? That is work.
And I was tired, and felt empty.
Then I thought of the eight books packed in my suitcase, besides the Kindle in my purse with hundreds of titles. This was my chance to fulfil a dream of doing nothing but reading without interruption all day long– except for the fact that several of those books were sent to me by the authors with the agreement I would read and review them on my blog and/or other venues.
And I was tired, and didn’t have the mental energy for that.
I sensed a hush as I walked into the log cabin. It was the Holy Spirit’s invitation to a treat; a retreat from striving, from performing, from people-pleasing, from caregiving, from preaching, from itinerating, from planning, from labelling what the heck I was supposed to be doing.
Zero obligation, except to enjoy the quiet and to be still.
The commotion (foremost that of my mind) ceased; immediately a healing began as I sensed His arms surround me, a smile on His kind face, the weight of striving fall off my shoulders, and a heavenly whisper of, “Enjoy!”
In His presence I knew then and once again, that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
It’s the knowing that is not of the head, but rather the deep acknowledgment in the innermost part of my soul. It’s the feeling of the bond between my God and me, that thing I don’t always feel but when I do it is good, very good.
And for me, it is healing. I can’t change the way God made me. I am an introvert by nature. I am good at solo-tasking and lousy at multi-tasking; the first one builds me, the latter one stresses me.
My solo task of “being still”, therefore, was the balm of Gilead poured over me.
Yet the stillness is not a turning into stone without movement, rather it is a ceasing from striving; It is a turning my eyes on Jesus as the cares fall away and simple pleasures are to be had.
In my stillness I drank coffee, journaled, watched the baby robins in the nest, went on long walks, took photos (the ones you are seeing on this post), sang worship songs, read a portion of Smith Wigglesworth‘s biography, took a nap, watched Fiddler on the Roof, and wept over the devastation and the children who died in Moore, Oklahoma.
As my forty-eight hour quiet retreat came to an end, I opened my journal and recorded the pondering of my grateful and peaceful heart.
This is a portion of what I wrote:
I am calm, refreshed. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Sometimes we just need to stop the storm around us to see the rock on which we stand – and realize that even in the storm, the foundation was firm and sure, even though our head, mind, body, heart, soul seemed to be taking a beating.
Thank you Lord. You are good.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
*As a credentialed minister with the Ohio Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, I am given two free nights per year in the Davidson cabin at the Heartland Conference Retreat Center.
What a treat!
Now, if in addition to that they would kindly grant us the nights missed during the four years we live out of the country, a greater treat indeed would be had! Even so, we are extremely grateful.