Personal Retreat, Part 3

personalretreat.pngA bit ago, I wrote two pieces about Letitia Suk’s book Getaways with God.  In simple terms, the book is about planning a personal retreat with God.  Letitia Suk has done this for many years, and uses the book to identify the reason why we should make an intentional effort to breakaway for private time with God.  Additionally, she blesses the readers with suggested retreat schedules and purposes that can be tailored to our individual needs.

The timing of reading Getaways with God was perfect, as I had already planned a trip where I would be arriving extra early.  I decided it was the perfect time to try out a personal retreat.  I have to admit the first couple of hours was awkward.   Being in a home that is bustling with energy from barking dogs, squealing kids, meals that need to be made, emails to send, calls to field, etc.; I rarely find myself in a space that is simply empty.  Void of distractions.  I was tempted to touch my phone, and reach out to someone.  I knew that in this room states away from home… no one would be dropping by for coffee.

I got settled in my space, wandered around for a bit almost lost in the silence and stillness.  I decided to grab a bite to eat before it got dark, bringing it back to my flat as to not lose a second.  I set the tone by playing worship songs, and I was very intentional.  Today was not the time to learn a new song, but to lean into my favorites.  I wanted songs where the words flowed freely from my lips and I wasn’t tripping up over lyrics.  What seemed so difficult at first became so much easier, to the point that by the time my personal retreat was officially over… I longed for it to continue.

For the retreat, I selected Psalm 5:3 as the foundation for my time.

“Every day I lay out my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.” 

This scripture meant a few things to me, in this space:

  •  Every day, I want my life to be an offering to God, for His glory and His purposes.
  •  Every day, I want to be willing to sacrifice my fleshy desires for He that sacrificed His son for me.
  • Every day, I want His burning fire to consume my sin, burning away the impurities and leaving only what is pure, noble, and good.
  • Every day, I want to watch for the pillar of fire that walks before me, guiding me and protecting me.

The scriptures tell us that before we can lay our offerings on the altar, we must be reconciled to those who have issues with us (Matt 5:23,24).  I needed to know if there was any offense that I had not apologized for.  But, I also knew there were some people that I needed to forgive with the same grace and mercy that the Lord has forgiven me. (Col. 3:13).  It was clear to me that before I could lay out my life on His altar, I had some things I needed to attend to.  The purpose of this retreat would revolve around forgiveness.

Forgiveness, what a beautiful place to begin.

After listening to the songs, my heart softened, I prayed that the Lord would show me an iniquity in my heart and give me His eyes towards those who are apart of my life.  I was shocked by what I learned about my life and my self.   I grabbed my journal and begin writing the names of people I needed to forgive, and what I needed to forgive them for.  I was surprised by the names on the list when I was done.

I learned that there were people I verbally forgave, but my heart was still hard.

I learned that there was someone I didn’t even realize I was angry with.

I learned from the issues I needed to forgive, that there were some patterns repeating in our family.   I’ve heard them referred to as “Generational Curses”, but I didn’t think they applied to my family.  But here they were, repeated patterns going back several generations.  I realized in this moment how much history shapes present, and how much I needed God to break these strongholds.

It all came to the head of love.  The moment when you realize how much you need God’s love, to fill the voids of absent love.  How much you desire God’s approval to fill the void of absent approval.  How much you want God’s validation to fill the void of absent validation.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to be reminded FOR MYSELF… that I am…

an image bearer.   (Gen 1:27)

cherished.  (Isa 49:15)

seen as wonderful, and have a purpose.  (Jer 29:11)

loved, with a love that is everlasting.  (Jer 31:3)

loved, sacrificially.   (Rom 5:8)

redeemed by a high price.  (1 Pet, 1:18,19)

a new creation, in Him.  (2 Cor 5:17)

a child of God, himself.  Adopted, chosen.  (1 John 3:1)

and called to do His will on Earth, a high calling, a commissioned call.  (2 Cor 5:20)

I needed to love myself, as much as the Lord loves me.  In loving me, He has forgiven great sins in my life.  How can I not do the same for others, to love as I have been loved?  To forgive as I have been forgiven?

I realized that I have been living wounded.  The day I gave my life to the Lord, my wounds tried to heal.  However, I realized I had allowed myself to essentially pick at the healing scabs… keeping the wounds open and fresh.  Living in hurt, instead of living in the freedom of the Cross.

I had allowed myself to live in the lies others had told me, that I had even told myself.  Believing the world and fickle people over the promises of God.  These are the bonds I need to break.

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Remember how I said a few paragraphs back that I didn’t want my retreat to end.  Well, in many ways it didn’t.  Through various means the Lord continued to reveal things to me during the several day long conference.  I’ll write more about those things later.

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Getaway with God, Part 1 of 3

getawaywithgodSometime ago, I messaged my Pastor’s wife questioning if she had ever planned a personal/private retreat.  She had not, but encouraged me that it would be worthwhile.  After all, spending intentional time alone with God can’t be anything short of a blessing.  I still didn’t know how to go about it though.  I asked around a bit more, no luck.

What do you do on a personal retreat?  In my head I envisioned myself sitting in a cozy chair with my Bible, reading.  Then I thought about purchasing a Bible Study with video set and doing the whole thing over the course of a weekend.  Perhaps I would journal until I couldn’t journal another word, or use it as a working retreat to write a book.  Maybe I would fast the whole weekend.  Then of course the logistical questions came rolling in …

When and where?   How will I pay for it?  Can we spare the time away, when I already have a few travel events this year.

As I cracked open the book, Getaway with God (by Letitia Suk), I learned a few things.

  1.  I’m not the only one who felt called to go on a personal retreat.
  2.  I’m not the only one who asked these same questions about planning one.
  3.  Letitia Suk has been doing this since 1977.

Now, I have in my hands the wisdom of someone who has figured this concept out.  She’s answered the questions, from what to pack to what type of retreat you should have.  Additionally, she speaks to not only what this retreat can mean to you today (in this season) but also down the road.  There are suggestions for short retreats (one day) to longer ones, a few examples of when we can bring a friend along and still consider it a personal retreat.

I’m also a big fan of the portions where she shares what other women have said about their own personal retreats. More women are doing this than we realize.

It just so happens that the Lord has made a way for me to plan a short personal retreat, before I even put my hands on this book.  In a few months, I have a conference to go to.  It’s going to be a very busy few days.  The conference starts early in the morning, and my friend and I planned to arrive the day before to get settled into our hotel.  As I was preparing to buy my airline ticket, I was a little sticker shocked.  Out of sheer curiosity, I looked at what the price would be to fly in an extra day early.  Amazingly not only was the flight less expensive, but I would also be able to stay at a quaint little Bed and Breakfast and still save some money.

So, I booked the ticket.  I’m flying in a day earlier.  I’ve got a Bed and Breakfast booked.

I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with all this free time.  Now that I’ve read the book, “Getaway with God”… I know EXACTLY what I am going to do with my extra day! I’m planning a personal retreat.    Over the next few weeks, I’ll post Part 2 which I will talk a bit about my planning process.  Then, I’ll post Part 3 after my personal retreat and fill you all in how it went!