Drawing Near to God: 3 Ideas for a Spiritual Retreat

By Sherry Graf

One of my all time favorite passages of the Lord’s love for us is Zephaniah 3:17. It reads:
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
In the busyness of our lifestyle as moms in ministry, it is often hard to find times to be “quiet in His love.” It seems that, especially during heavy ministry seasons, even if He is shouting I can’t always hear Him! Anyone relate? I want to share with you today something I do every so often to help me go deeper in His love for me.

Six years ago my husband and I took a sabbatical. One of the habits we developed from that process was to take regular spiritual retreats. This helped us avoid burnout while we constantly poured into kids, students and younger staff. We started out each semester with a calendar and scheduled in a 24 hour (or more) retreat for each of us. Since moving off campus we haven’t been as consistent, but it is still a goal. In fact, I can start to feel when it is time to do another and am currently working on a plan for one in the next few months. :)

This time away is so important for me. I gain refreshment physically, mentally and spiritually. As a busy mom we can’t always get in more than a few moments alone with God, especially when our kids are very young. Taking a spiritual retreat is another way to refill our tank. These retreats have looked different each year for me but I’ll share a few ideas to hopefully inspire you if you decide to plan your own.
  1. When we lived in Brookings, we had good friends with an apartment above their garage. I’d schedule an overnight there for free – what a blessing! I’d start with time in the Word, journaling and prayer. I usually brought a non-fiction book along that I just hadn’t gotten to. In the evening I’d grab my favorite take-out and pop in a good movie. Then the next day was more time alone with God, maybe work on an upcoming talk, etc. This extended time also allowed time to evaluate and pray over different areas of life - my kids, women I’m discipling, our marriage, etc. 
  2. One year I attended a spiritual formation retreat at the Glen. The schedule allowed plenty of time to be alone with God but also offered good content to help me practice being in His Presence more. I invited a newer friend to join me and this provided a bit of fellowship and depth to our friendship.
  3. I have another good friend that has become a retreat buddy! We have been friends for about 20 years so we really know each other well. This makes it comfortable to not spend the whole time talking (tempting as that would be). The last two years we have gone away for an entire weekend and it has been soooo refreshing. We spend our days alone with God and enjoy good fellowship in the evenings – usually with good mom chocolate and Jane Austen. One time we booked a couple rooms at a retreat center in the mountains. The place was deserted so it was a great getaway with comfy beds, a prayer path in the woods and even a hot tub! We split up the meals ahead of time and so neither of us had to cook the whole weekend and went out one night. Another time she had a connection to a cabin we could use. With the snow falling down it was wonderful to be in the woods and not have to drive anywhere. For me, getting to be outside in nature for long prayer walks is very satisfying –even if I have to put on layers. This helps me not just sleep the afternoon away – though naps are definitely permitted!
Every spiritual retreat fills my soul with His quiet love. I have time to hear Him afresh and be recharged in Him. It is worth spending the money and time away from Jeff and the boys, even just 24 hours. And if the kitchen is clean when I get home I consider that a bonus! :) 

I hope as you read through these ideas you don’t feel pressure of “one more thing” to do. But I do pray you see the value in investing this kind of time in yourself and your relationship with God. Even if it takes a bit of money and effort to fit it in, you are worth it! And you will come home a better wife and mom for it. If you decide to get one on the calendar, I’m sure your husband would appreciate scheduling a time for himself too. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Blessings dear ones!
Sherry joined staff in 1997. She robbed the cradle and married a handsome student (gasp!) named Jeff in 2000. Since then they have served in WI, SD and now in CO. They have 3 boys ages 8-13 and there is never a dull moment in their house. 3 years ago Sherry finally got her girl, a black and white lab mix who is her constant shadow. Jeff works with operations and training for collegiate. Sherry enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn't busy homeschooling.

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