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If it has been a long while since you have been able to get away on vacation or to a quiet spot on a beach, high in the mountains, or just alone by a pool somewhere, then you know there is nothing more renewing than a little retreat. I used to think of times of retreat as something along the line of a "forced withdrawal". I really just did not enjoy time away from what I was doing everyday. Some would have called me a little too retentive to let things go and let others take the reins for a while so I could enjoy time away. I have come to recognize that "retreat" is sometimes the most strategic thing you can do!

You're my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. (Psalm 119:114)

The very act of withdrawing into a place of quiet and safety is often the best move we make - even when we know there are a whole lot of other 'movements' that need to be made. That very movement into a place of what appears to be a lack of movement is actually bringing us to a place of refuge. Within that refuge, there is privacy for the planning of the next movements we will make and for the clarity that can come when movement ceases for a while and we can just stand back and look. The opposite of retreat is advancement. There are very specific times when we need to pull away, step back, and allow God to change our focus long enough to impact our plans for the next steps we take. Advancement may not be possible until we have had a moment of retreat!

We might find we have a tendency to make others our place of retreat. When things aren't going as we'd like, we sometimes find ourselves gravitating to the comfort of sounding off to another individual. There is nothing wrong with having a trusted friend. Yet, there are times when the best person to hear about"our issues is not our trusted friend, but God himself. We have to guard against using our trusted friends to be what God deserves to be in our lives. If we really desire the clarity for our next move, God will use our friends to help us by giving us the confirmation of what he gives us when we seek him first. Be careful, though, because we have a tendency to make God operate on our schedule and that may not be his schedule for the issue. The fact is, times of retreat may be necessary long before we feel we are ready for them. We often don't realize how "ready" we were for the benefits of retreat until we have enjoyed the blessing of that time away from what it is that had us all wound up so tight in the first place!

We often don't understand the joy of quiet until we have stepped away from the chaos of the daily battles. In the midst of the fray, we seldom realize that we have no real sense of peace. I am not just referring to the absence of noise, but the real sense of inner assurance that comes from knowing that what you are engaged in is exactly as it should be, in the exactly correct timing, and with the exactly correct steps being taken. In the times of retreat, there is often a "re-ordering" of our steps. Until we enjoy the quiet place, we pretty much won't see with clarity the next steps we need to take. We have a hard time with the waiting part of retreat. Just as soldiers pull back into periods of planned retreat, we need to do the same. In the retreat or pulling back, time is given for healing, fortification, and just enjoying each other a little. To be at our best, there are times when "waiting" is the best "action" we can take!

Not sure where you find yourself today, but if you have been hitting it hard, you may be ready for a little retreat from the chaos of your circumstances. The fact remains, no one can run at full speed forever - we all need times of retreat. It may take some doing, some adjusting of your priorities, but you will find the benefits of retreat far outweigh the constant plugging away under the pressures of your day. I don't believe "retreat" times always need to be extended weekends away from home in some cabin on the mountain top, long vacations away from phones and emails, or periods of sabbaticals from your professional pursuits. I do believe they need to be frequent, dedicated times of rest. Times when God is able to renew us at the very center of our being. Wherever, and however that is accomplished in your life - do it! You don't realize the benefit of retreat until you have taken the opportunity to experience it! Just sayin!


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