Sunday, January 26, 2020

How To Take A Spiritual Retreat-Part Two

For part one of this series click here.

Last week I shared about a recent personal spiritual retreat that I took during a time of spiritual depletion and inner weariness. In last week's post I shared some of the symptoms of spiritual depletion. Today, in part two of this series, I'm going to share some practical tips on why you may want to take a personal spiritual retreat, how to take one and what to do on a retreat such as this. I hope you find this helpful and encouraging.

Why you may want to take a personal spiritual retreat.
As I mentioned in last week's post, this is only the second time in my sixty-two years of life that I've taken a time away by myself in order to hear from God and to be spiritually refreshed and restored. Most of the time I am able to avoid extreme spiritual depletion and weariness like what I recently experienced by building times of personal retreat into my normal life. (How to do that will be part three in this series.) I'm not sure why this time I needed more drastic measures to experience some measure of refreshing because there were no unusual outside sources of extra stress happening. The first time I took a personal spiritual retreat was after a long season of trial. I am thankful that in both instances I had my husband's full support, encouragement and help to make my time away possible. Most of all, I am thankful that in both times of personal retreat, God met me in a very real, very personal and very significant way.

How to take a personal spiritual retreat.
My children were already grown by the time I took my first personal spiritual retreat so I didn't have to worry about childcare. However, there were still ministry responsibilities that I had to cover in order to get away. Sometimes, dealing with the work it takes to actually getaway is what prevents us from doing so! I had to be vulnerable enough to admit to others what I was going through and why I was getting away in order to get their help to cover things that I normally do. If you still have little ones at home, perhaps you and a friend could trade childcare in order to make a retreat possible for one another.

Next, you'll need a place for your retreat. It's off-season, so for my recent retreat I found a great deal on a cozy little hotel suite at the beach. (The beauty of creation was created by God to minister to our spirit. If you can go somewhere where you can enjoy the beauty of God's creation- the sea, a lake, a river, the mountains- that is ideal.)  Look online for bargains. If you use a credit card that has reward points maybe you could get a room using those. Perhaps you know someone with a vacation rental or cabin you could use. Maybe a friend or family member is going out of town and would let you spend a night or two at their house while they're gone. 

What to take and what to do on your retreat.
The purpose of your retreat is spiritual refreshing and restoration. So, the most important things to bring with you are your Bible and journal and the most important things you will do is to get gut level honest with God about what you are going through and then listen for what He wants to say to you in response. His presence is where you will find the refreshing and restoration that you are desperate for. You are not really on this retreat by yourself. You are on a getaway with God. As you seek Him even in the midst of your depletion and weariness He will meet you. Psalm 42:7 in The Passion Translation begins with these words, "My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of Your love." That is the purpose of your time away in a nutshell.

There was a kitchenette in my hotel suite so I brought my favorite coffee and tea, (and even a favorite cup from home!), and other food so that I didn't have to eat out if I didn't want to. I also brought a candle and bought some inexpensive grocery store flowers when I arrived at my destination to give the hotel room a homey touch. I packed a favorite blanket, my own pillow and my most cozy, comfortable clothes. Everything I brought with me was meaningful and comforting, My goal was that even the belongings that I had with me sparked a sense of peace and rest in me.

My agenda was simple. In the morning, I put on my favorite cozy sweater, lit my candle, turned on the fireplace, made my coffee and then spent my mornings praying, reading my Bible and journaling. My only other goal for each day was a nice long walk by the sea. I had to bundle up in waterproof gear due to the winter weather and one day the tides were so high I couldn't actually walk on the beach, but as they say, "a walk by the sea is the best therapy!" Your agenda on your retreat will be unique to you. The one thing that all should have in common is time spent with God.

I realize that for some, an actual retreat away from home just isn't possible. Next week, I'll write more about some options for when you can't get away. However, my two experiences of getting away for a personal spiritual retreat were so life changing that I regret not doing so more often.

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