Being with God

“Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you.’”—Mark 10:51

Greg, Tony, and I spent a few days on retreat this week to review ministry areas and to make ministry plans for the fall. Having set aside time for retreat since the founding of Cornerstone, I’ve come to expect certain things from it—certain things from me and certain things from God.

From me, there is always hesitancy about going. It starts before I leave. I begin to wonder whether I can afford to be away with all the “important things” I have to do, and I worry about how heavy the workload will be when I get back. I also doubt whether the retreat will really accomplish anything. These reservations and others often linger as I drive up and settle into the first day of retreat. That was certainly true this year.

I had a hard time sleeping my first night. I tossed and turned most of the night and never did get settled. The next morning I tried to pray, but found the words were hollow and lifeless—a lot like how my body felt. Sleepily, I opened my Bible with little expectation and landed in Mark 10 with no forethought. It was the story of Blind Bartimaeus.

I read slowly, writing in my journal as I went. I witnessed the urgency and desperateness of Bartimaeus to get Jesus attention for healing, something I knew my soul needed, and I heard the crowd speak powerfully assuring words, “Take heart. Get up; he [Jesus] is calling you.” Those simple words gave expression to exactly what my heart needed to hear. I had conceived of this retreat as me seeking God not God seeking me. Thus, I felt pressure to get to God somehow. I wrote in my journal, “I am not to worry about getting to God or getting things done, but rather to wait on God and take heart. Christ is calling me.”

Jesus approached Bartimaeus and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” and with no prompting my own soul responded, “Just be with me.” Though different from the words Bartimaeus said, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” I think you’ll agree that the spiritual undertones are the same. I wrote again in my journal, “In your presence, Lord Jesus, there is grace and mercy. Teach me to know that it is enough to have you.” I had thought the retreat was about finishing all the reading I want to do and about planning all the fall ministries and tying up a thousand loose ends. No, it was about something else, something better. It was about being with Jesus, experiencing afresh his grace and mercy, and knowing—truly knowing—it is enough.

Tony, Greg, and I did plenty of planning this week. I believe they’d tell you it was a very productive time. But if you were to ask me about our time away, I wouldn’t say much about what we did, I’d tell you instead about what God did. He gave me sight to see once again that Jesus is all I need. He healed me and restored unto me the joy of my salvation.

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