Can I be honest? I went into the Retreat weekend feeling guilty. I’ve been back in my passport country for two weeks to start an extended home assignment. My days have been filled with trips to beautiful grocery stores to buy kombucha and baby spinach, singing worship songs in English, and pulling sweaters out of totes because winter is still hanging on in the Midwest. For the past three years when retreat time rolled around, my teammate and I turned up the AC as a special treat, and prayed the electricity stayed on so we could download all the materials. We cried our way through the deep work God did in our hearts through the videos and journaling and gave ourselves permission to rest and indulge and dream.
This year as I sipped a warm cup of coffee in the cozy loft of my childhood friend’s bakery, the question on my heart pressed heavy. Would God show up in Nebraska in the same way He has in Cambodia?
God’s invitation to come away and rest with Him is for all of us, no matter where we are or what season we are in. Like an air plant gone dry needs to soak in water, He calls us to be submerged in Him and filled with His light and love.
As I watched, wrote, and drew during the retreat, I felt the guilt melt away. Instead of carrying the burden of this season and the heavy weight of the messiness of the season just past, God tenderly cared for my heart as He brought to the surface all the ways I have been holding on to control. I saw my own heart reflected in the life of Moses who was wearing his soul thin by taking all the responsibility. Maybe Moses felt He had the closest connection to God so he needed to be the sole judge for the people. He wanted to serve them, mediate for them. Sometimes my sense of responsibility can blind me to the ways I have clenched my fist and closed my eyes to the people around me who can bear the burden with me. Moses needed his father-in-law Jethro to come alongside of him in a difficult season, and to honestly point out the need for help. Moses couldn’t do it all alone.
I can’t do this alone either. I’ve been wrestling with this home assignment time, wondering what is next and how in the world I’ll be able to figure out the details of the future. These decisions are not just about me but also involve my teammates and organization, and the partners God has brought the last few months. Yet, it’s not my responsibility to make it all happen. Moses needed to let go for himself, but also for the peace of the people. I need to let go for the sake of my own heart, and for those around me too.
Moses didn’t actually get to see the Promised Land or deliver the Israelites safely there. I was struck by what the retreat guide, Val, pointed out about the long stretches of Moses’ life that were neither the peaks nor the valleys. They were lengthy roads of embracing the ordinary and learning lessons of endurance. This is where I am, with no assurance I will get to see all I long for in ministry. I am left with only a trust in the God who is faithful to complete all He promises, all He begins.
And now comes the hard part, taking all the beautiful ways God spoke to me on the mountaintop of the retreat and living them out in the gritty everyday. He meets me here in these stretches, too, to sustain me as I embrace my limits, the way He has created me and the season I am in.
What lessons did God bring to the surface as He cared for your heart during the retreat? Are there ways He has been encouraging you to let go of control and trust Him?