Periodically I take personal retreats. These are extended times to get away and spend some time resting, reading, reflecting, restoring, and reconnecting with God.
Resting - Matthew 11:28-3028 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.1 Most of us are weary and worn out from the demands of life. We first need to rest before we can clearly hear God. Sometimes the most holy thing you can do is to take a nap! Anyway I find that I need to rest at the beginning of my retreat. Just some plain, old, down-time.
Reading - As I am resting and after I begin to feel rested, I generally read. I take along several good Christian books that will inspire, exhort, encourage, challenge, and educate me on my spiritual life. There are so many good books out there but I tend to focus more on the Christian classics or on books dealing with issues that I am wrestling with in my life. These can be rich times if you read with an open heart and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
Reflection - Romans 12:3 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.2 One of the most powerful things about a personal retreat is the time you can spend in reflection. Most of the time life is too busy and noisy to be able to reflect well. It is helpful to get away from people and your everyday situations in order to take a good look at your life. Over the years I have developed a mission statement that I like to look over and ponder. Am I heading in the direction that God wants me to? Am I spending my time and resources as God wants me to? Do I need to make some changes? I find it helpful to journal and write down the things God says to me.
Restoring - Psalms 23:1-3 1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.3 Our souls are like plants that need tender care. Often we neglect them and then wonder why we are discouraged and depressed. One thing I enjoy doing on my retreats is to take long prayerful walks in the woods. There is something about the outdoors and just being in God's creation that is restorative in nature. I feel renewed just wandering down a forest trail.
Reconnecting with God - Psalms 42:1-2 1As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?4 Over the course of time we drift away from God unless we pursue Him. So many things and people via for our attention. Getting alone for an extended time with God helps restore your relationship with Him. You once again can call out to Him, "abba" or daddy and feel is warmth and embrace.
1 Matthew 11:28-30, NIV.
2 Romans 12:3, NIV.
3 Psalms 23:1-3, NIV.
4 Psalms 42:1-2, NIV.