November 16, 2011

A Little Refreshment Please

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  (Hebrews 10:25)

I did nothing this weekend.

And I did it 2 hours away from home in a remote Minnesota lake cabin with three other beautiful women.  We talked, laughed, played games, ate lots of chocolate and drank lots of coffee, shared music and faith and struggles.  We stayed up late and slept in. We stayed in our jammies most of the day and didn't shower until the middle of the afternoon. We sat in silence and we shared God's Word.

We did all this...and, yet, we did nothing.

Because we did not chase kids, do laundry, or stress about our jobs or our churches or our homes. No one cleaned a toilet, or changed a diaper, or ran car pool for the 3rd time this week. Not one of us left to run errands, or pick up a sick kid, or attend a committee meeting.

We were four weary women sneaking away to do something other than the something that we normally do - and, in that, it felt deliciously like we were doing nothing.

And it felt good.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)
We are all women who love our families and our churches and our jobs. And we are also all human - we do not run on an endless supply of fuel.  We pour out all that we have until we are empty. Our flesh gets tired, our minds grow weary and spirits yearn for refreshment. We long for that break; for that moment of peace and tranquility where we can stop what we are doing, shut out the chaos, close our eyes...and breathe.

And we need to do that. It is too easy to think that we can do it all - all the time.  Culture screams the myth of Wonder Woman at us everywhere that we go - yet it never reminds us that even she had a tropical island to escape to when life got a little frazzled!

Jesus, perfect and sinless, took time to sneak away from the crowds and the noise to refocus and refresh.  And His word tells us that he did it often. The God of the universe, the creator of all that we see and all that we are, knew that his human body, mind and spirit needed a break once in a while.

So why should we be any different?  Jesus tells us to follow his example; to do as he did. If he took time away from his ministry to seclude himself and be refreshed, to re-focus, and to reconnect with God his Father - how much MORE should we, in our frailness and humanity, need to do the same thing?
I long to see you so that ... you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
(Romans 1:11)
And just as much as we need to get away, we also need each other. Our lives are busy; and it seems that with each year, life demands more and more of us. And the busier that life becomes, the more isolated we become because we are too busy to spend time with others.  I am not talking about at your Scout meeting, or at work, or in the aisle at the grocery store - that is not enough.  I am talking about over coffee and homemade pumpkin cheesecake. I am talking about over fries and a Coke at McDonald's.  I am talking about in your living room or at the kitchen table: I am talking about un-distracted time to share one another's burdens, to pray for each other and to bring encouragement and refreshing to our weary souls. To know that someone, anyone, understands and that we are not alone

When Wonder Woman flew her invisible plane back to Themyscira, she was not alone.  Instead, she was welcomed back into the fellowship and encouragement of her Amazon sisters.

We need to put down our dishtowels, our car keys and our computers (ahem) and look another woman in the eye and tell them what is going on in our lives. And then when we are done we need to shut our mouths lovingly return the favor and listen.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today... (Hebrews 3:13)
We were not meant to live this life fighting on our own.  God gave us himself, his Spirit, to encourage, comfort, direct and strengthen us.  But we are human and we forget that - we get distracted, lose focus, and even start to doubt.  So God, in his wisdom, also gave us each other: so that through our fellowship we can be encouraged by sharing our faith and reminding one another how great our God truly is.

This weekend did more for me than I can express in words: I was refreshed and encouraged.  God's Word felt fresh and I felt him speak to me throughout the weekend.  But I was also reminded how good it felt to be in the company of other women.  No agendas, no lists, no purpose  - other than just being with one another.  It was good.

I need to hear their laughter, struggles, ponderings, and victories of other women. I need to share my faith, and questions and dreams with someone else who will understand.  And I will go back home and find ways to make it happen. Someway. Somehow.

I encourage you to find a time - somehow, someway to get away for a retreat.  Don't see a way?  Pray - God will provide (and seeing God provide is a great way to build your faith.)

In the meantime, find some time to do nothing this week.  And find a friend to do it with you. You may not have access to a remote lake cabin, but there is a living room couch, or a park bench, or a table at the local coffee shop calling your name.  Find it - use it.  Laugh, share, cry, pray, love, live...and be encouraged and refreshed.

And, whatever you do, don't forget the chocolate.

 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. (Jeremiah 31:25)

When is the last time you were able to get away from it all?  How are you making time to block out the world and allow God to speak into your life without distraction.  When you pack for your retreat, will you bring milk chocolate or dark?

And just for kicks and giggles...

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