Personal spiritual retreat: 24 hours with God
What would happen if you took 24 hours away from your routine sometime within the next month to be alone with God? What might be the results? I have put this question to many pastors and administrators over the past few years. Here are some of the common responses:
• God would refresh me.
• God would refresh me.
• I would experience more of God.
• I wouldn’t be so stressed.
• God would probably tell me things I do not want to hear.
• God would give me more peace and rest.
• I would probably discover more of God’s agenda for my life.
• I would lead with more of God’s vision for my family and ministry.
• I would rethink what was really important.
So why do we not do it?
We give many excuses. We say we are too busy. We say what we are doing is too important to quit. We are too tired. We are worried that people will not wait for us. We feel like we just cannot slow down. Our excuses go on and on.We give many excuses. We say we are too busy. We say what we are doing is too important to quit. We are too tired. We are worried that people will not wait for us. We feel like we just cannot slow down. Our excuses go on and on.
Scripture says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). Not just people in our churches perish without vision, but we perish ourselves. Without God’s vision for our lives, we dry up. We often get into ruts that leave us living without new life in Christ.
Years ago, the prophet Elijah desperately needed to slow down and just be with God alone. Mount Carmel was the peak of his ministry thus far, but one threatening letter from an angry woman sent him running the wrong way. Elijah needed to be refueled. He was tired out, discouraged, and depressed.
On Mount Horeb, God gave him a personal retreat with the One who loved him most. After Elijah slowed down and got some rest, he was finally able to hear God. And God had a toughlove question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah’s time alone with God in the cave was not the problem. The problem was that Elijah was overwhelmed with the burdens of his ministry. He needed to be overwhelmed with God’s presence, availability, and powerful vision and calling. Once Elijah slowed down, God ministered to him. He took care of his personal needs and tenderly shepherded his heart. Then, and only then, did God confront him with challenging questions and gave him new vision.
So why do we not just stop? Do not wait for a perfect time to get away with Jesus for a day. You could wait a lifetime. So just stop. Set aside a day.