The Need to Retreat

Have you ever had to sit down and decipher just how many competing voices you may be listening to?  Have you had a moment when you felt constrained by too many voices?  


Sometimes we need to physically leave all those competing voices behind.  Set down the phone, the other devices, the laptop…  You might be listening to “chicken little” who believes the sky really is falling. Some of the voices we leave behind may also be the criticism from family or friends, who really are struggling to walk in love.  They may be the voices of modern day Judaizers, adding legalism into the faith.  Or perhaps the voices of false teachers, showing you how to live your best life now or telling you to go wash your face or stop apologizing, or how to name it and claim it, or how to declare what ought to be rather than listening to God and praying in humility.  

God reveals Himself and all we need to know, we look to Him and He makes our paths straight.  We abide in His words and find what we are all deep down looking for.  Gladly hush those other voices.    

Sometimes you must heed Jesus’ invitation to come away to a secret place and rest for a while (Mark 6:31-33).  

In my pre-covid lifestyle this was a bit easier.  Two years ago I took just such a retreat.  Me, my Bible, my journals, a few books.  I was preparing to teach an upcoming Bible Study, as well as enjoying sweet fellowship with my God, in the midst of His glorious creation.  No cell phone coverage.  No distractions.  

In that time, the idea for a book was born–as I prayed, worshipped, read, studied, mused upon journals detailing what I had learned or taught or prayed through in previous years, it clicked.  

Abide in Me, and I in you.

And I stayed up way too late, scribblings thoughts and outlines with pen and notebook.  

The ideas were near and dear to my soul, and somehow fresh and renewing.  I have heard since that many wonder what “abiding” could mean; or they wonder: how do we do this, how do we do this without turning into some legalistic formula, how can anyone understand what Jesus meant, and other such questions. 

I had once read a book on abiding, very mystical in nature.  And like J.I. Packer, I too am indebted to John Owen for the way he so gently wrote. Owen has led many true Christians away from mysticism and into deep spiritual communion with God.  

But this communion is never apart from His Word.  

The week after my retreat I had the blessing of good conversation with a fellow mama and believer.  While our kids played she asked what the Lord was teaching me.  Everyone needs a friend like this!  

I answered “abiding.”  And the most delightful conversation ensued.  This topic is one that will warm the hearts of all Christians, and ought to bring such delightful conversations into everyone’s life.  We abide in Him, He in us; and we abide together as His people.  Brothers and sisters in Christ.

This book, Deep Simplicity: Meditations on Abiding in Christ, does not merely run through John 15, because abiding is God’s design from before He created; abiding was not an afterthought or spur of the moment idea.  God created us to know Him, and to be known, and to live every moment in light of that.  So this book references many books of the Bible–and yet does not exhaust the topic.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  John 17:3  

We abide in the true vine.  You may wonder what such a call can really speak into our current situation.  When did Jesus expound on abiding?  The night before He was crucified (see here).  Spend some time pondering how the call to abide was exactly what the disciples needed right before their world seemed to fall apart.  Right before they began their ministries, ending in death for many of them.  

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