I was shocked to see that my day was over so shortly after it had begun. Most of the materials I had brought remained untouched—except the water, of which not a filtered drop remained. After a short time of prayer with my friend Dave, I went home in a sobre mood, craving something to chew but looking forward to my spirit’s next visit to the redwood forest.
As I contemplate my schedule and frequent travels, I wonder when that next visit will be. I know I can’t afford to miss an opportunity to spend a day of solitude with the Lord, and as painful as the experience was, I know I need to make this a regular part of my monthly schedule. And it wasn’t all pain—I spent time rejoicing about what the Lord has accomplished in my family, about victories on the fields I serve, and about His own goodness and mercy which He lavishes on me so bountifully. I was reminded that God’s grace is both unbounded and unrelenting, and He pursues the ones He loves until they have to stop and catch their breath, as it were, their spirits gasping and heaving like the chest of a spent runner leaning against a tree and sucking for air.
I highly recommend a spiritual retreat. Just do it, and don’t wait three years, as I did. Find a place where you can regularly be alone with God, and set aside a day for reading, prayer, meditation, writing or whatever you feel you need to do in this time. Plan your day ahead of time, and make yourself accountable to someone for what you accomplish. Though the temptation is to take the Walden Pond approach and spend the day in the woods, for me that would be a huge distraction. Though naturalism for a Christian is a form of worship (I call it theogling—see the 15 Mar 2011 post) , that was not my purpose, and I can sufficiently indulge my appetite for natural wonders when I’m hiking or fishing or canoeing.
Be sure to let those close to you know where you are, but ask them not to disturb you. Report to someone about what you learn, and teach someone else the lessons God teaches you. And take along some muffins.