Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wanna Get Away?

I think retreating has been given a bad rap…

The last thing we want to do in a war is to be forced to retreat. We never want to leave the battle un-won or the task unfinished. We don’t want to be seen as weak or fragile, unable to accomplish our objectives. We don’t want to back down from a fight. We don’t want to retreat from our positions. If someone challenges our beliefs or our rights, the last thing we would want to do is back away from the challenge. Retreating has been given a bad rap.

Often we see retreating as an admittance of defeat, that we weren’t strong enough to handle something on our own. We don’t like to be told that we can’t do it, that we aren’t strong enough, or that we simply aren’t up to the challenge. Sometimes, however, we need to be able to retreat, to take a step back, look at the situation more clearly, and reevaluate our position. Sometimes retreating is a necessary step in order to preserve the war or the warrior.

Now, for those of you wondering, this article has absolutely nothing to do with the war in Iraq or any other political item on the agenda. Instead, I want you to focus on the idea of a spiritual retreat. There is nothing dishonorable about escaping from the world for a time and spending time in prayer and worship with others of like mind. Jesus did it all of the time. Throughout the Gospels we find Jesus escaping from the hectic bustle of his ministry in order to spend time in prayer. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed…” (Mark 1:35) Jesus often commanded his followers to do the same:

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:30-32)

I think the Southwest Airlines commercial has it right: Sometimes you just want to get away. So often, however, we as Christian refuse to step out of our daily lives and spend time focusing solely on worshiping God. We get caught up in the good stuff of life (work, school, family, etc) that we neglect the best (our relationship with God).

Sometimes we need to spiritually retreat, to step back from our daily battles, look at our situation more clearly, and reevaluate our position in life. There is no dishonor in retreating; indeed, it is commanded in order to preserve the spiritual war that we fight and our place as a spiritual warrior.

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