Art by: Katherine Horst (a fellow attendee with me at the recent United Adoration Retreat) - instagram.com/khorstart
Earlier this year I wrote about the theme of being gentle with yourself, and it seems that perhaps there is still more to say about this concept. As I am writing today, I am on a retreat hosted by United Adoration, and I'm realizing how rare it is to actually experience "retreat" in our current culture. Elise, our leader, shared during our opening time together that for many of us, we expect that going on a retreat either means we are getting lots of quality teaching (i.e. a conference) or we're going somewhere to engage in physically restorative experiences such as hot stone massages or relaxation techniques (i.e. a spa).
This retreat, however, has been neither of those things. Instead, we spent some time eating and sharing meals together, had a few brief times of worship and reflection, and then were given extended times to simply be with the Lord in quietness. If we felt led to create something, we were welcomed to do so. At the same time, it was understood that if we just needed time to "be created", to allow God to do a work in us, that was okay too.
Woven throughout these times together were opportunities for us to share what God was doing. I have come to realize that for me, conversations with people are an incredibly big part of the way God teaches me. Part of the beauty of being in the body of Christ is the way we can see the Lord in each other. Yes, certainly there are times when God reveals something about Himself while we're alone with Him. But I find that more often than not, these truths are either solidified or sparked by conversations with others. Someone says something and I find it reverberating in my mind, leading me to new understandings of God's goodness or grace.
Here's an example: during our first sharing time, one of the attendees shared that he has discovered that God really loves to do things over and over. Scripture tells us His mercies are new every morning, and we all know that many of our struggles are not once-and-done thing. What a gift it is that God does not grow tired or weary of our problems! Rather, He delights in having chances to heal and comfort and help us, again and again. I have read those verses in Lamentations many times - the ones about God's mercies being new every morning - but something about hearing someone talk about God "loving to do things over and over again" brought a whole new dimension to my understanding of this aspect of God's character.
During our retreat, another theme that emerged was that of rest. I'm learning that rest is meant to be a rhythm. It's not a once-and-done thing but something we do over and over again. We tend to want to move on, to check things off, to grow past this thing or that thing.
But what if we have the wrong idea of growth sometimes? What if the goal we're to be aiming for is not to outgrow our need for rest but to embrace it? I love the way we hear Jesus speak about rest in The Message translation from Matthew 11 ...
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Jesus invites us to follow His example, and a huge part of His example is taking time for rest. So what does rest have to do with being gentle with yourself? So much.
We must be gentle with ourselves in order to rest in the first place. Gentle when we forget to rest. Gentle when we struggle to rest. Gentle with our guilt over resting. Gentle with our questions about resting. We're gentle with ourselves because Jesus is gentle with us. Not just one time, but over and over again. In the same way, let us be ever more gentle with ourselves.
Pray with me...
... Jesus, continue to reveal to all of us more of Your gentleness and Your invitation to rest
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
... Father, use our conversations to teach us and deepen our understanding of You
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 4:10-11
... Lord, let the rest and gentleness we experience in You overflow to each other and everyone around us
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory