For the past three days I have been on a prayer retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. A precious couple offered to let me use their cabin, and I finally said yes. Well, I should have said yes earlier. I could have sat on their porch for days enjoying and reflecting on their view of God's incredible creation. I had numerous hours alone in solitude and in silence. I went on some long hikes. Enjoyed picking delicious wild blackberries growing along the way. Read much from my Bible and out of several books I am currently studying.
I try to take one of these retreats once a quarter, but always seem to have a good excuse to not go. Sometimes I go to a nearby monastery, and other times, to various places where I spend time alone with God in silence and solitude. It never fails that I am glad I take this time, but like this time, I know why I resist it. Being alone with God can be very intimidating! After the noise and the voices of the world, worries, concerns, job duties, and personal temptations die down, the Lord lovingly confronts me with myself -- my shortcomings, my sin, my disobedience, my lack of trust, my faithlessness and my religiousity. Once I am honest before Him about these things in my life which are interfering with our relationship, He pours out his forgiveness, his love, and the sweet freshness of His Holy Spirit. This happened during these past few days as He brought me face to face with myself.
I spent most of the remainder of my time during this prayer retreat listening and seeking clarity about what I am doing with my life and ministry. He showed me many things which opened my eyes to how much His Grace has abounded during the past six months. Without being too public about all He showed, let me just say that I was overwhelmed at how blind I have been about some things, how the enemy had clouded my perspective on how I viewed my ministry at our church, with A Word from the Lord, and in the broader church and community. I am SO THANKFUL for His guidance and leadership!!
I am back off the mountain now and am returning to my sabbatical studies. For those who read this who pray, I ask you to pray for a friend of mine who is living and stuck in a BIG FOG. Pray that he will be delivered from this bondage soon as it is affecting his family, his job, and his relationship with the Lord.
Some quotes to consider from Carson Pue's, Mentoring Leaders....
Calvin Miller: "God does not shout his best vision through hassled Christian living. It's in the quiet that he gives the most delivering visions of life."
"We must choose to develop the discipline of silence."
Eugene Peterson says this: "Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at your High God."
Chuck Swindoll says, "Noise and word and frenzied, hectic schedules dull our senses, closing our ears to His still, small voice and making us numb to His touch."
Carson writes... "Many leaders feel too busy to take time away to listen. They have mind traffic that both distracts and exhausts them. Good opportunities continually present themselves or people continually cry out for their attention -- keeping them from spending time in quiet. Many leaders are actually ambivalent about solitude. Many leaders are afraid of being alone."
"Solitude and silence balance out the noisy, public, hectic lives most of us live. It is an excellent way of regaining internal balance and of mending the confusion caused by a harried and distracted existence -- and yet it is within this fertile soil of quiet that vision begins to grow... ask yourself, 'Doesn't it make sense to invest a relatively small amount of time in solitude in order to make the rest of my leadership more effective?'"
Frances Chan in Crazy Love writes... "What if I said, 'stop praying?' What if I told you to stop talking at God for a while, but instead to take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word? Solomon warned us not to rush into God's presence with words. That's what fools do. And often, that's what we do.... The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him. It may seem a hopeless endeavor, to gaze at the invisible God. But Romans 1:20 tells us that through creation, we see His 'invisible qualities' and 'divine nature."
R.C. Sproul writes. "Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignficance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God."