Last week I mentioned how Tony, Greg, and I got away for spiritual retreat and ministry planning. More than typically, you responded to the column, inquiring with questions about what does it mean to go on spiritual retreat and expressing how you wished there was available time in your life to do something similar.
I’ve reflected on your comments this week and prayed personally for those of you who spoke to me. I could hear in your questions a sincere desire for spiritual renewal. If you expressed that to me or sensed that need as you read last week’s notes, I want to encourage you not to bury that desire but to earnestly seek for extended time with the Lord.
The reason I urge this upon you is because the Sabbath pattern is embedded in creation and was modeled with perfect faithfulness by our Lord Jesus Christ. That is to say, rest and retreat with God are not spiritual luxuries to be enjoyed by full time ministers or church staff but necessities for every believer interested in preserving his or her long-term spiritual health.
As you hear me say that, you may think, “It’s impossible with my current schedule and pressures to escape for spiritual retreat even for a day!” I say something similarly to myself right before I schedule a retreat or any lengthy time with the Lord. I’m slowly learning, however, not to listen to myself. The reason? It’s not true. Simply stated, we find time to do the things we believe are most important.
On the first day of retreat last week, I asked myself two questions. The first was, “Do you believe that your relationship with the Lord is the most important part of your life?” I answered as you might expect, “Yes.” Then I asked a second question, “Does your life reflect this priority?” I did not like what my heart told me, but I like where God led my heart. After asking those questions and coming to terms with the reality of my life before God, the next hour was spent in prayer and confession, receiving grace and then joyfully recommitting myself to God.
As I was making plans for ordering my life to reflect my commitment to Christ, one line I wrote in my journal summed it up for me. I wrote, “Instead of letting time with the Lord fit in around everything else, let everything else fit in around time with the Lord.”
Martin Luther was once asked what his plans were for the following week. He said, “Work, work from early until late. I have so much to do that I plan to spend an extra hour in prayer everyday.” Sounds crazy, right? Wrong. Luther is teaching us that the most important thing we do everyday is be with the Lord. Everything else can wait (Luke 10:42).
As we discuss spiritual discipline and discipleship today in our “Loving the Church” sermon series, let us commit together that time with the Lord will not be sacrificed on the altar of so-much-to-do. Let us commit to become a church where Jesus is truly THE Love and Lord of our life… Really.