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  • Writer's pictureKandi Swift

To Retreat or Not to Retreat

"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." James 4:8

It’s officially fall, although according to the weather in my sunny city of Phoenix, Arizona, you would never know it. We’ve had record-breaking heat with temperatures still sitting at over 100 degrees. I’ve been craving the cooler mornings just to sit outside and enjoy a warm cup of coffee. So, I decided to do something about it and head up to the high country among the mountains and pine trees. If the cool weather won’t come to me, then I must go to it! The trip is actually two-fold: to find cooler temperatures and to focus on doing some extra writing. As I was driving up here and praying about what might be the first thing I would write, I was overcome with emotion at the thought of getting to spend uninterrupted time resting in the presence of God. The bible tells us that God is everywhere, but the mountains and trees are among my favorite places to sit and talk with Him. When I first set out to take this trip, it didn’t actually occur to me that I was going on a spiritual retreat until I was on my way up here.

What does it mean to retreat? In military terms, when troops retreat, it is generally to escape the enemy’s superior forces. This sounds more like an act of running away and hiding to me, which doesn’t necessarily seem like a good thing. So, I looked it up to see what happens when an army retreats and realized that to retreat is not the same as to surrender. The military withdrawal or retreating of troops is to relocate to a more favorable position with the long-term objective to defeat the enemy, not surrender to it. Retreat means to pull back or withdraw, as into safety or seclusion. Wow! Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we do as we find retreat with God? We set ourselves apart away from noise and distraction and ‘relocate’ to a more favorable position. In that place we find strength, rest and renewal. It is a place of preparation, to equip us for the long-term objective which is to defeat the enemy.

Moments of retreat are necessary. Even Jesus Himself retreated from the people to pray and spend time with His Father. One time He retreated for 40 days. Other times, it was overnight and yet other times it was for just a few hours. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed times of retreat, we certainly do. Today, I encourage you to create intentional moments of retreat. It can be for any length of time: a few days, a few hours, a few minutes. Withdraw, pull back, slip away to find quiet, uninterrupted time to pray and rest in the presence of God.

Scriptures:

Mark 6:31 (ESV) – “And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’”

Psalm 62:5 (ESV) – “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him”

Psalm 116:7 (ESV) – “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”

 

Prayer

Lord, help me find moments to withdraw from everything around me and relocate to a more favorable position. A position of rest and renewal that can only be found in You. A place of retreat where You strengthen me and equip me to defeat the enemy.

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