Monday, September 22, 2008
Why not try this?
In the past few months, my plans for getting away by myself to just hang out with Jesus have been thwarted 3 times. Last Thursday I said to John, “I have to go! If it’s okay with you, I am going to go on Saturday no matter what.”
John wholeheartedly supported me, so Saturday morning I got in the car and drove to Benet Pines Retreat Center, a wonderful place run by nuns. The only cabin available for me was a four bedroom home, spacious, comfortable but huge. Last time I stayed there I got freaked out at night. It is located by itself in the middle of a forest. When you go outside at night, it is dead black. No lights. Nothing. I’ve seen too many horror movies. So this time, I asked a few people to pray for me at night. God helped me have no fear this time.
In a nut shell, it was wonderful. Being alone and not talking for 24 hours is fabulous, but strange. This was my fourth time to do this, so it was easier than before. No phones, no internet, no TV, no Digital Cable. Just silence. Except for birds and wind and occasional music I played on my boom box.
Someone asked me what in the world I did, so I thought I would give you the highlights and encourage you to try this. It is a vital practice to my sanity and spiritual growth, especially because I am on a journey that involves a lot of risk and rejection.
I always start by taking a nap. A long restful nap. So many times when you travel, getting there is exhausting. The retreat center I go to is only forty-five minutes from my home, but the planning and packing and going takes energy, mostly mental. So I make sure to take a wonderful nap first and foremost.
If I feel sleepy at anytime, I rest. Freedom is vital. I don’t get away so I can complete some sort of religious checklist. I go to hang out with God and get restored in a way that solitude can accomplish better than most anything else.
Some of the other things I do or have done:
• Walk around and pray.
• Read. I try to take at least one book with me that will challenge my spirituality or encourage me to growth with God. I have taken Joyce Meyer’s Battle of the Mind, St John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul and Lost in Wonder by Esther De Waal to name three.
• I journal and write. Of course, I do this. I love to talk to God through writing.
• I sit and listen. Some of the best moments I have are when I just sit and listen to the sounds of nature. If I get antsy, I have discovered that deep breathing and reading poetry help me to settle down again. Then I just sit and listen again.
• I sit and stare at the stars. Every time I go, I bundle up and sit outside and look up at the beautiful dark wonder of God, sprinkled with shining diamonds. I used to do this a lot as a kid, so this practice always relaxes me and makes me happy.
• I sing. No one minds because I am alone. :0)
• I dance. There is something absolutely sacred about dancing for the Lord in the midst of a candle lit room. Alone. Uninhibited.
• I meditate on Scriptures. My brother Phil, who is my teacher and inspiration in getting away on these retreats, (His ministry Caleb’s Heart encourages these kind of retreats called WAAWGs-Weekends almost alone with God) taught me the practice of lectivo divina, a Benedictine ritual of just reading Scripture and taking time to let it really soak in.
• I fix myself good food.
• I drink hot tea.
• I do what I feel I need. My sister in law Lory gave me a Dean Martin CD for my birthday. I love, love, love Dean Martin’s voice. So on my 24 hour retreat, I took a very long bubble bath while listening to my favorite crooner.
The most important thing is to just connect with God and let Him love me. He wants to. He wants to love you, too. He loves me and you through our busy schedules. But I believe He yearns to have dates with us, be them short or long. But taking 24 hours to just be with Him has become something of a need for me. It’s like when you discover a great hair dresser who makes you feel good and look good, too. You naturally want to go back and experience that joy again. God is better than the best hairdresser. :0)
If you stumble onto this blog, or you are a regular reader, I know that it is not a coincidence that you are reading this. Take a minute and think about trying to get away by yourself for 24 hours. Away from family, friends, media. Many books are in your library that will help you figure out what to do during the time. Retreat centers are located near you. You just have to purpose yourself to do this. If you want my help or prayer email me robbieiobst at hotmail.com and it would be my HONOR to answer questions or pray for you as you go.
My 24 hours away didn’t change my life. I am not on some spiritual high or feel I need to go to the mall and preach in the food court. In fact, after 10 days of feeling poorly, I am still sick with a cold, hacking away.
But you know what? My soul is at peace. I am content. I am rested. And I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that God loves me right now, just as I am.
I know because I gave Him a chance to tell me over and over. And over.