“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.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
Several years ago a friend told me she was taking some time away from activity during the month of January to rest and take stock of her life. While a very intriguing concept and one I wanted badly to incorporate into my own life, I really needed her to accept a volunteer leadership role that began in January! Even after my most persuasive arguments, she held fast to her “fast” from January activity. But, it got me thinking…
We should all take stock of where we are periodically and decide if all our “busy-ness” is taking us where God wants us to go. My husband often says our actions, not our intentions determine our path. So I’m suggesting we take time to assess where our 2015 actions have taken us, where we want to go in 2016 and what actions keep us on the path. Let’s call it our personal retreat. It can look like whatever works best for our current situation. But let’s do it!
Consider these basics. Location. Anyplace you feel the presence of God and has a view that brings peace to your soul. What’s important is solitude. Length. Take as much time as possible. Aim for two days, but even 4 hours can get you started in the right direction. Supplies. Your Bible. Instrumental music to set the mood. Your 2015 and 2016 calendars. A journal.
Now that you’re on retreat, what next? First, do a 5 minute brain dump in your journal of everything on your mind. All the things you think you should be doing instead of taking this time for yourself and God. Once that’s done, take a walk outside. If it’s cold and rainy, bundle up, but get outside for at least 30 minutes to an hour and enjoy God’s creation. Walk leisurely. Inhale. Exhale. Consider the trees, the birds, the path you are taking. Pray prayers of thanksgiving, repentance, forgiveness. Once back inside take 10 minutes to journal your experience.
Now it’s down to business. Review your 2015 calendar. Note 2-3 successes in your journal. Note 1-2 failures/mistakes. (You really should have at least some failure in your life. The best lessons are learned that way.) List what you learned from both. Now, look at the top 5 most important areas of your life. Only 5 – it is the number for God’s grace.
Determine what you want to accomplish in each area, incorporate lessons learned, create action steps and PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR. Review your 2016 calendar to ensure reasonableness, ask God to reveal any areas of overload and remove them. Share with your accountability partner.
God desires for us to lead full, productive lives that honor Him. Get away with Him and find the unforced rhythms of grace for you in 2016. Selah…
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Your Turn: Have questions about how to fit a personal retreat into your current busy life? Ask them in the comment section. Have some great ideas of what’s worked for you? Please share them with us. ~ Andrea