This past weekend was spent mostly on Black Butte Ranch, where I joined up with twenty-something other people to seek God. Cross Training has an annual winter retreat where a guest speaker joins up with us to share whatever God’s placed on his heart. Pastor Eric Green from Jubilee blessed us with his wisdom and taught mostly about setting our minds firmly on the Lord. I haven’t had such a powerful experience in quite a while. After his message last night we had about an hour long time of worship, in which emotions ran high and the Lord moved.
Moments after the worship time, I immediately poured into my journal and wrote several things out. Throughout all of what has happened in the short day and a half, my heart and soul have been rejuvenated. The struggle I now face, along with everyone else who was touched this weekend, is getting back into reality.
I long to see the day when we no longer have to toil and strain to make a living. I long to see the day when orphans and widows would no longer be suffering loneliness and helplessness. I long to see the day when no one’s heart, no one’s mind, and no one’s soul is distracted by created things but instead are in a constant, reverent worship and praise to God. But that time has not yet come. So when we receive something holy, something powerful, when the Lord’s Spirit fires us up over a weekend retreat, we have to fight to keep it there.
Pastor Eric taught us how important it is for us to be getting in the Word on a daily basis. He said that if we don’t do so, we’re much more liable to get distracted and possibly sin. And during the ride home today, I deeply desired to get to work. I couldn’t wait to get home, bust out my Bible, bust out a notebook and start feeding. And even though this fire is great and awesome to experience; it won’t always be there. I got into the Word today and I did an extensive amount of journaling, but I did so with an inspired energy. I’m not always going to be inspired to get into it. There will come days when taking time out of my day to seek the Lord will feel like a strain and a burden and I won’t really feel like doing it. But that is exactly where I am supposed to fight.
Never have I been on a retreat that I didn’t come back from without having to fight. The first four or five retreats I went on, I didn’t really pay much attention to how un-inspired I was when I got back to Eugene. I’d simply walk in, throw down my bags and start in on whatever homework I needed to do before the next day, completely unconcscious of the fact I surrendered the rejuvenating energy without a fight at all. But this time I’m aware of it. The question I now face is, how do I fight it?
My prayer life hasn’t been great recently, but I’m still fully capable of using it as a weapon. Prayer, Scripture study/reading, journaling, singing songs of praise, or simply worshiping in silence before God are all viable options to help keep my mind on the Kingdom above. Even though I may not be fed by what I read, write, sing, or pray, I could still be focusing my mind on what God wants me to be doing. Although I don’t know it from experience, I still know that when I am married there will be moments when I don’t feel like loving my wife. But the commandments from God require the action of love even if the feeling is absent. Though I might not want to, I will have to keep loving my wife because I agreed to commit to her “in sickness and in health” when I put that ring on her finger and let her put one on mine. It is a promise that I will keep, regardless of how I feel.
Likewise, I come to tonight. I feel like worshiping God; I feel like praying; I feel like writing books about Him; and I feel like feeding my soul off of His Word. When the winds rise and the waves start to crash against my boat, though, will I still feel all those things? If I capitalize off this energy given by God, if I commit right now to seeking Him on a daily basis, I might not feel joyful when the storm rises up, but I will know and I will have a much stronger faith that whatever the storm may throw at me; He will calm it. I may not feel like praising His name in the midst of the storm, but I’ll know He’s still in control because I committed to seeking Him out all those days prior.
“The seed is the Word of God,” Jesus says talking about the sower sowing seeds. The soil is our hearts; if we choose to soften them and let the Gardner feed us with His water of life and grow within us a small tree in the image of Him, if we let His seed grow deep roots within our hearts, the storm will rise, rage and ravish our limbs and leave us exhausted. But the roots, because they were so deep, will hold us up. Fighting for this freedom is never easy. But that’s exactly why there is more than one ship in a fleet; when one takes on damage, the others are able to assist. For those of us who partook in this retreat, let us encourage each other daily to keep walking with the Lord. And for those who weren’t able to attend, the good news is that God is not limited to a retreat. He certainly moves much easier when we aren’t distracted, but meeting us here in whatever chaos we may be going through is not impossible for Him. When tomorrow morning rolls in, grab your sword, bend your knee, lift up your voice; do whatever it takes to seek Him. The battle is about to begin.