Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” ~ Mark 6:31, NIV
The photo accompanying this post is not from some dreamy Northwoods beer commercial. It is, in fact, a real place. I took this photo a couple of years ago on the pristine shoreline at Fort Wilderness in McNaughton, Wisconsin. In recent years, I make a 4 day retreat there each October with my BSL (Bible Study Ladies) group. It is something I look forward to every fall, coming apart from my ordinary life in the beauty of God’s breathtaking creation, stretching myself personally, and quieting myself to allow Him to speak to my soul. Aside from digging in deep to God’s word, trekking quietly along a prayer path, and worshiping with other dear women, I also get to move out of my comfort zone with crafts, horse back riding and rifle shooting. (Those who know me ought to be scared to imagine me in that last activity!) This time deeply fills the core of my being, preparing me to go forth and live fully the life God calls me to the rest of the year.
My question for those of you traveling a similar path to me is, What are you doing to “Come apart before you come apart”? Do you make regular time each day to spend in quiet time where God can speak to your soul? Do you make time each year to refill your spiritual tank in some deliberate way? How are you growing yourself spiritually as you pour yourself out for others?
At the advice of one of my pastors, I have begun digging into the terrific read STRENGTHENING THE SOUL OF YOUR LEADERSHIP: Seeking God In the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton. The author makes some convicting points relevant to this notion of pulling away to plug in to God, “One of the reasons solitude is so challenging for leaders is that the activities and experiences associated with leadership can be very addicting… Leadership roles, by their very nature give a lot of fodder to the ego. To remove ourselves, even for a time, from the very arena where we are receiving so much of our identity can be difficult if not impossible for leaders, not matter how much mental assent we give to the idea.”* Haley Barton emphasizes, “But one of the things I know for sure is that those who are looking to us for spiritual sustenance need us first and foremost to be spiritual seekers ourselves.”*
We can never be reminded enough that we must be intentional about spiritual self-care or we become a dull tool in God’s hand. We also set ourselves up for major burnout if we don’t pull away at times. While God calls us to serve, He also calls us to be filled. We are merely a vessel, and if we don’t allow God to pour into us, we become empty with nothing to offer others, including having intrinsic purpose in ourselves. I pray that you have or will make time to schedule sacred time like this for the benefit of yourself and everyone around you.