I used to go to New Wine in the past, but it was too noisy for me. I needed more time to quietly process what I was hearing, learning, and what the Spirit was saying.
In the past, when I went to retreats, I would come back full of wonderful resolutions to revise my life. To be a better wife, mother, housekeeper, friend, church member, and yes, a writer. Eat well, exercise hard, rise early.
I will…. I will… I will. Not surprisingly, when stitches fell from that shawl of good intentions, I would give up in despair. And feel increasingly suspicious of mountain-top experiences and resolutions, so hard to keep up with or follow through amid the slings and arrows of daily life. And when one fails, your latter state is worse than the first, because you are so dejected and lacking in confidence in your ability to change.
Cantankerous, irritable Martin Luther perhaps because of his very cantankerousness and irritability had priceless insights into the nature of grace. We are caterpillars in a ring of fire. Our only hope is deliverance from above.
I first heard that quote from Jack Miller, the dynamic, insightful founder of World Harvest Mission. Asked what he thought of Richard Forster’s wonderful “Celebration of Discipline,” he replied, “Oh, I am too big a sinner to be fooled by “The Celebration of Discipline.” Amen.
And I am too weary a sinner to follow the path of good resolutions, New Year’s resolutions, self-help, all that good stuff.
Middle-age is a wonderful mellow time. I know now that I can’t change myself. I can’t heal myself. I need the Great Physician. I need a Saviour. I just need Jesus!
So what do I hope to gain from a retreat? That is a question my 15 year old is going to be asking me a lot, and my 11 year old. So, let me be ready to give an answer.
1. I want to read Scripture some more and encounter Christ in an environment free of distraction.
2. I want again to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I increasingly feel that my deepest desire is for God’s spirit to fill me totally.
3. I want to surrender myself again to God and have him work on the deep, secret parts of my spirit, the parts I myself don’t know or understand–healing, rearranging, reshaping, teaching, setting free.
4. And if God has words of wisdom, revelation and guidance, he would like to share with me (and of course He has, and of course he does, he is a giving God, and both word and silence are his native language) I want to be there, still and quiet, to hear them.