Thanks so much for partnering with me in prayer for this week's Pastor's Sabbath Retreat. I returned home late last night, so I am exhuasted of course, but it is one of the most "refreshing" and "fulfilling" experiences of exhaustion that I have had for quite some time.
The Lord blessed us with wonderful weather during our time in Estes Park, which allowed everyone to take full advantage of the rest and renewal provided through the beauty of God's creation. We also enjoyed wonderful times of worship and fellowship together, as well as a number of spiritual exercises focused around the theme of listening to God, based on 1 Kings 19.
It was obvious from talking with others that by far the greatest benefit of a retreat like this one is simply the gift of time and space to "breathe" or "unwind" or "decompress." Most church leaders devote so much time and energy to serving others that they often neglect to take adequate time for themselves, so retreats like this one can be especially life-giving, if not life-saving.
I met with one brother, for example, who has had an unusually difficult and personally disappointing history in vocational ministry. In fact, he felt so defeated that he almost turned around and returned home before arriving in Estes Park. As we talked together towards the end of the retreat, he summarized his experience with this simple statement: "I have been rescued."
Praise God for His saving and sustaining grace, and for the gifts of rest, renewal and restoration. May you experience each of these realities in your own lives and ministries as you continue to follow hard after Him.
[Nearly every resource I cited during the retreat can be found on the Center for Spiritual Renewal website: csr.barclaycollege.edu. The website can also be accessed through the Barclay home page (http://www.barclaycollege.edu/) by clicking on the "Center for Spiritual Renewal" link in the bottom right-hand corner. Those who are wanting to get a copy of the "Shalom Prayer" can go directly to the following website: http://www.maranathacommunity.org.uk/shalom.aspx (which is also included in the recommended resource page on the CSR website).]