How does that old song go? “Summertime, and the living is easy…” Well, not this summer! Somehow, the calendar is suddenly full. Pete is working full time, and trying to sort out his medical bills and insurance payments from his heart “event” earlier this year. My schedule is packed as well. We desperately need time—with one another, and with God together.
Apparently, God thinks so too. Out of the blue, we were offered a couple of nights in a house (like this one) near Steamboat Springs—free. What perfect timing!
For centuries, Christians have taken themselves out of the busy-ness of everyday life and “retreated” to a quiet place in order to reconnect with God. Jesus set the standard for this. All throughout the gospels, we’re told that Jesus went away to a lonely place to pray. Sometimes He invited the disciples to go with him.
One of my favorite “retreat” stories is in Mark 6:31. The disciples were so frazzled from doing the ministry God had given them, they didn’t even have time to eat. So Jesus invited them to accompany him to a quiet place to rest.
God values rest. Of all the Ten Commandments, it seems that the church today struggles most with the command to keep the Sabbath. If God used up one out of the ten commandments to emphasize our need for rest, He must think it’s important!
Why does God consider rest so crucial?
More and more, we saturate our days with interruptions and noise. We live our lives to our personal soundtracks. In many homes, the TV is always on, spewing news, canned laughter, or some announcer’s voice explaining how we can improve our lives by buying the right brand of laundry detergent. We’re always available—even I have five different messaging apps, not counting the phone itself. (Does anyone still make phone calls?) And then there’s social media. When do we ever have time in which to stop and listen?
“We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves….” This quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is even more significant when you consider he died in 1945, before the invention of modern technology.
Into all this distraction, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a still, small voice. Read 1 Kings 19, especially verses 11 – 13[i]. How in the world can we hear Him above the racket?
Relationships take time. There is really no substitute for spending time getting to know someone. I married Pete because I love spending time with him. When he gets busy, I miss him. Sometimes we do things together with other people, and that’s fine, but if group dates were all the time we shared, I’d feel very deprived. We need our one-on-one time.
In the same way, we need time with God. Yes, we go to church—a “group date” with God. But we also need our one-on-one time. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have. Shouldn’t we prioritize spending time with Him?
We’re at a real advantage at this point, because the Holy Spirit indwells us. We can talk with God anytime, anywhere. But just as I get frustrated trying to talk to Pete while he’s busy, I’m sure there are times when God would like my full attention.
Spending time away from our daily routine, without distraction, without other people, without the noise we have become so inured to we hardly notice it, gives us a chance to reconnect. We focus deeply, intensely, joyfully on the One who desires our companionship so much that He was willing to die for us. God wants to take you away to a quiet place, to rest, listen, and experience His love. Can you fit Him into your schedule?
[i] The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”