Remember summer camps and sleep overs? Being in your pjs or play clothes all day and only stopping play long enough to eat meant only one thing – summer vacation. As kids we soak up every minute of vacation and when it’s over we look forward to the next.
So what happened?
“Life” we say. Life happened. We are too busy caring for and planning everyone else’s life to ensure we care for and plan ours well.I just spent the weekend on a small retreat with a few women I’d never met in person. We were a few of the speakers at a virtual conference and instead of being in our own homes with life swirling around us, we chose to be together.
The conference was about…. You guessed it, JOY.
It wasn’t a particularly convenient time to get away, nor was it easy. There always seems to be reasons to not go. I had never met these women I was about to spend four days with! I’m in the middle of a huge construction project in our home and I knew that being gone meant no work getting done. Then there is the issue of what to do with my very large puppies. Nevertheless, I figured it out and I went, and I’m so glad I did.
There is a trend in churches to call getaways or retreats, advances. “The mens advance”, or “Leadership advance.” We don’t want to think that we are retreating. It feels unproductive. Instead we spin it to make ourselves feel better about the time away. “At least if I’m not here I’m being productive and learning something valuable to bring home with me.”
Psalm 23 begins with,“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”Psalms 23:1-3 NLT
The Good Shepard knows what we need. He leads us to retreat. To rest and refill. It’s vital to live a life filled with joy. We’ve believed the lie that rest and joy aren’t productive. We have said things like, ”I’ll rest when I’m dead.” But the Lord wants us to have abundant life, so what does he do? He leads us to retreat. To refill and be strengthened.
The psalm goes on to talk about the valley of the shadow of death. That’s not a place where one would think about resting. That’s not a convenient time to retreat! It feels more like we should get out of there as fast as possible. But the Good Shepherd knows better. He wants us to be at peace and filled with joy no matter where we are and what we are facing.
My friend, please take this as a friendly reminder to see yourself the way the Lord does, as a child of God. As a little one who needs a break. A time to play, rest, and be refilled. Retreat with the Lord and be filled with joy.