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Don’t retreat after a retreat

by | 22 June 2018, 4:49 PM

June is the month of holidays, rest and recuperation but for the typical Singaporean Christian, it’s also the month of the highly-anticipated Church retreats!

As my camp was overseas, we enjoyed incredible fellowship as a community in a refreshing setting – as well as affordable food and shopping. Unsurprisingly, Church camps and retreats are a highlight in most calendars and many of us block out these dates in advance.

It’s always a blessed experience. There is physical and spiritual space for an extended time of prayer and worship, which means more time to linger in God’s presence. With time for ministry, we also get to witness chains breaking within individuals and rejoicing alongside them.

The hours in the afternoons between the sessions were great for rest and relaxation (my friends went to Sunway Lagoon while I napped or shopped) and the nights remained as young as we wanted them to. Indeed, retreat is a beautiful medley of encounter, fellowship and rest.

But what happens when we come home?

If you’re sentimental like me, perhaps you’ll hang up your retreat lanyard in your room like a prized possession to reminisce over fondly in the days to come, thinking that it’ll be another full year before you get to experience something similar.

But that’s not true!

Instead of looking at retreat as an extraordinary, one-off event – what if you really let it shape how your daily life looks like? Just as we made sure we left none of our belongings behind at the hotel, we must also make sure we brought home the posture and experiences we learnt at retreat.

But if I really say I belong to God, how can I let these little weeds take root in my life?

By the time you’re reading this, June will be coming to a close and it’ll likely be a few weeks since your retreat ended. The hope is that the posture of humility and anticipation we had retreat would still be present in our lives mere weeks on.

Maybe by now you’re not as persistent in prayer. Maybe you’re allowing yourself to stroll into weekend services late. Or maybe you’re not giving your best effort in your area of service. I’m not sure about you, but I am guilty of all the above.

But if I really say I belong to God, how can I let these little weeds take root in my life?

Renewal. Realignment. Refreshing. Revival. We may not realise it, but the kinds of words we use to describe retreats tend to be words which imply continuation.

When Elijah retreated to Mount Horeb, fearful of Jezebel’s death threat after he killed the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:1-9), the Lord met him there and assured him: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).

Elijah descended from the mountain, reminded of his calling as the Lord’s prophet and even anointed his successor, Elisha as well as future kings of the nations. All that Elijah did after his retreat points to a rejuvenation of his spirit by the Lord which he lived out immediately despite Jezebel’s threat still hanging over him.

Most of us don’t have the weight of death or depression hanging over us – but Elijah did. When we return from retreats, there have to be indications that we met God there, there has to be growth exemplified in our everyday actions – decisions which reflect renewed faith and hope.

Live in His freedom, love as He does and walk as His child. Don’t retreat from where retreat left off, allow it to flourish in your daily living.

/ samanthaloh@thir.st

Samantha is a creative who is inspired by the people and stories around her. She also loves striped tees and would love to pass her collection down to her future children. Currently level 1127 on Candy Crush.

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Don’t retreat after a retreat