I’m busy. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been busy. School, ministry, family, friendships, and a myriad of other activities mean that my Google calendar is almost always a beautiful blur of all sorts of colors.
Shortly after becoming campus staff with InterVarsity, I went on my first spiritual formation retreat . . . because I had to. I was told by my supervisors to take three days off from campus during one of the busiest times of ministry to go on a personal retreat.
How irritating, irresponsible, and inconvenient. I had meetings to attend, Bible studies to prep, emails to keep up with, and much more—but they were telling me to drop all that to spend time studying Scripture, resting, and being with Jesus in complete silence and solitude.
Turns out, the retreat was surprisingly amazing. Inconvenient, yes, but also restful, restorative, and transformational.
That week I learned that though my life is full of good things, the constant roar of a busy schedule can easily drown out the still, small voice of God. Even a strong commitment to daily time with Jesus hasn’t been enough for me to maintain a vibrant, healthy spiritual life.
An Antidote to Anemic Spirituality
We all know how important it is to take longer periods of time to be with Jesus. We solemnly nod in agreement with Henri Nouwen's statement, "Solitude is the furnace of transformation." We love the idea of embracing Jesus' invitation to his disciples and us: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
But it seems to me that very, very few of us actually do it. Our refusal of his invitation, however, leads to a dangerously anemic spirituality.
Ever since that first retreat, I’ve intentionally worked to get away at least once a year to a Benedictine monastery here in Southern California to spend extended time in silence, solitude, and prayer.
During these times, as the noise of my busy life fades and I am stripped of distractions, I’m able to connect with Jesus at the deep level that my soul craves (which I’m usually unaware of).
During these times, God has had the space and time to heal deep wounds.
During these times, I have prayed prayers that God has answered in miraculous ways.
Now I’m Telling You . . .
I’ll admit it: taking these personal retreats still often feels like a huge inconvenience. It’s stressful to go away and leave tasks undone. But this discipline has also been one of the most transformative I have ever committed to.
So drop the excuses and the busy schedule. Grab your journal and a Bible, and find a place where you can take time to be with Jesus without any sort of agenda.
And then wait for God to show up and surprise you.
Matt Meyer and his wife, Bekah, are planting an InterVarsity chapter at Ventura College in California. Matt blogs on life and ministry at kingdomintersect.wordpress.com.