Thank you for praying for our fall retreat. We had a wonderful time away.
Our retreats are typically a mixture of three ingredients: Fun, Fellowship, and Focus. You can trace the contours of our time along these three lines.
We enjoyed time playing in God’s beautiful creation. The weather was perfect autumn with blue sky afternoons and frosty evenings. We canoed on the lake. We ziplined. We played ultimate frisbee and basketball. We were thankful for the time to unwind.
A big part of retreat is having extra, unrushed time together as a student ministry and in small groups. This weekend we had time to meet in our cabin groups to connect, to discuss the bible lessons, and to pray for one another.
Our ultimate aim is to focus on God. Personal devotions in the morning, worship sets overlooking the lake, Bible lessons in the chapel, conversations with friends and leaders…these are all ways to refocus our hearts on what matters most. This year we considered three major parts of our faith: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
We are thankful for this break in our busy fall schedule. We are thankful for the serene weather, for safety as we traveled and played, for extra time together, and for God blessing His Word as we stepped back to reflect on his work in our lives.
Thank you again for partnering with us in prayer.
This weekend the students at our church participate in our annual fall retreat.
It is easy to think of a fall retreat as an event. But we try to think of our fall retreat as a spiritual discipline.
M. Robert Mulholland Jr. (1993) describes retreat in these terms:
Retreat is the discipline of setting apart a time, individually or corporately, to step aside from the normal flow of life and give God our full and undivided attention. While the disciplines of prayer, spiritual reading, worship, daily office, study and fasting all serve as means to clarify the focus of our life in Christ and keep us centered as citizens of God’s new order of being, we also need special times in which we allow God to help us reevaluate the whole structure of our life in Christ. We need to stand aside from our discipleship so as to be able to see more clearly the direction in which we are going and the course corrections God would have us make. It is possible for the practice of the classical disciplines itself to become a subtle form of works righteousness in which we come to think that by our faithful exercise of the disciplines we are transforming ourselves into the image of Christ. We need to take times to stand aside and allow God to show us what we are doing and what we ought to be doing (p. 119)
This is our heart for retreat: “to step aside from the normal flow of life and give God our full and undivided attention.” A spiritual retreat is deliberate time away to focus on God, and this is what we want for our students and leaders. Will you pray with us for this time?
And what about you? How does retreat work in your life? What does it look like? Do you need a weekend away? Could the best way forward right now be the way back?
Mulholland, M. R., Jr. (1993). Invitation to a journey: A road map for spiritual formation. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books.