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Monday, October 27, 2008

I Want You To Grow Spiritually 5: Go On Retreat

Go on retreat.

My daughter went on retreat last weekend with her youth group. She loved it. All the components worked together: the retreat speaker, worshiping with a group of kids her age, and she said she had deep spiritual discussions with one of the retreat leaders that she really enjoyed. I don't think retreats are just for kids. Perhaps a retreat will help you.

Several weeks back I had the privilege of attending Willowcreek's Leadership Summit. It wasn't exactly a retreat but it got me out of my routine and gave me knew input and perspectives in my life. For me, at a time when I was feeling low, those 2 days were intensive and hope giving. Loved it.

A couple of years ago my wife and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. It was wonderful. We brought another couple with us and it saved their marriage. I can't say enough good things about Marriage Encounter. What worked for us was getting out of the routine of caring for kids and maintaining our home, allowing us to focus on each other and our relationship. We talked about intense issues without being interrupted. We were cared for by the leaders. They were wonderfully loving.

I remember years ago when I served as an Evangelism Associate in the Evangelical Covenant Church, our leader, Lon Allison, would take us on an annual "advance" -- we were evangelists afterall and we don't "retreat". Those 3 or 4 days together with communion every day, intense prayer, training, collaborating and an inspiring speaker were some of the most life giving moments of my year. I miss that.

There is something about a retreat to give a new perspective. It gets you out of your routine. Often you are with other people that build into you. They are often focused intensively on helping you to connect with God.

You can go to monasteries and go on silent retreats and/or meet with a spiritual director. There you can observe the liturgy of the hours or daily office and order your time by with the worship of God. Sure you eventually have to go home but a retreat can strengthen you for the days to come.

Anglicans, Presbyterian and Catholics all have a wonderful renewal/retreat ministry called Cursillo, while Methodists have a similar one called Walk to Emmaus. People who have been a part of these spiritual adventures rave about them.

Sometimes, to break through the spiritual blockade we are struggling with or fighting against, we need to retreat. Retreats strengthen us, rebuild our hope and courage, and give us a new perspective on our being. They are life giving. Many times, they bring just physical rest that we need from the day to day hectic pace we keep.

While a retreat can be a program like Cursillo or at a monastery, it can also be a day(s) away at a cabin or hotel or friend's house -- some place serene. I've done this where I've gone away with just my journal and my Bible, to reconnect with God.

Retreat. Try it.

This is part 5 in a 20 part series on spiritual growth. If you feel like you are not growing deeper in your faith or relationship to God, if you are not loving and serving others more, if you have a sense of 'stuckness' in your spiritual journey, and you really want to grow ——— the answer might not be to try harder. All too often I have heard the same solutions offered over and over — 'All you have to do is have daily devotions, pray more, read more of the Bible, be in worship every week and get more involved in the church.' In other words try harder.

Sometimes that doesn't work and I'm going to offer some suggestions that might help you move forward.

Previous Installments:
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 1: Give Up Daily Devotions
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 2: See A Counselor
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 3: Spiritual Direction
I Want You To Grow Spiritually 4: Get A New Church

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