Preparing to Retreat

It seems a bit ironic that getting ready for a vacation or a weekend retreat often involves frenetic activity—watering plants, shopping for groceries or other supplies, tidying our home, paying bills, and the big issue: deciding what to wear. How many outfits will I need, what kind of shoes, dressy or casual clothes, or some of each? Then there’s the question of accessories: purses, scarves, and jewelry.

This week I went through much of this as I planned for a women’s retreat forty miles from my home. I reread the brochure to see if I missed any necessary items. I knew my sister was probably stressing over this even more than I was so I sent her a quick email, reminding her (and myself) that this was to be a relaxing, fun weekend. Keep It Simple Sweetie!

Evidently God knew ahead of time I would be getting ready for this retreat with my usual plan of attack, fretting over the details. The morning of the retreat I opened my devotional book to the proper date and read, “Turn from the path of planning to the path of Peace.” I chuckled at that statement. The author went on to say God’s peace is not found in excessive planning. Attempting to control our future in this way is actually a form of unbelief. Rather he wants us to commit everything into his care. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”

The retreat speaker whose theme was “The Wardrobe of Joy” reinforced this message.  Her first topic was choosing to wear the garment of praise. She said, “Worry and worship cannot reign in the same heart; worry is a form of unbelief.” That sounded familiar.

She also stressed the importance of inner beauty. While we like to look our best and make a good impression, God looks for that inner beauty of a quiet heart that finds its peace in him.

Perhaps a better way to plan for a spiritual retreat or a “get-away” would be to spend time in meditation and prayer, preparing my heart and soul, rather than stressing over all the details. I hope I remember that the next time I’m preparing to retreat!

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