I love retreats. I love the time away, away from the distractions of life, away from the chaos of my house, away from the schedule and to do list. I enjoy the rest and reconnection with God. I enjoy sharing those moments with women I love and women who love the Lord. It is a sweet, sweet time.
There are some years when I am at a turning point in my life and the retreat comes at just the right time for me to really grapple with some tough things. I come home changed. But often, as was the case this year, I was not changed. It is hard to write that down because there is an expectation that I would be changed by God at the retreat. One of the retreat leaders even ended the retreat by asking if we were changed and said if we were not we needed to spend some more time in prayer asking God to change us. And I get that. I get that we should be asking God to change us daily. We should be constantly on the sanctification road. But I also resented the idea that I had to feel changed by the end of the retreat.
Retreats are often a mountain top experience. They end with everyone having a spiritual high. And this can be good if it motivates people to spend more time with God once they get home. Giving people of taste of true fellowship with Him and His people is a huge blessing. Spending time on the mountain top can rest our souls and also remind us of how much God loves us and wants to spend every day with us. Mountain tops give us a clearer view of the world below and a better understanding of our place in it. There is a reason people climb mountains.
But we spend most of our lives on the ground. And if we stay too focused on the mountain top, we can get lost when our real lives crash back in on us. We often meet God on the mountain and then accidently leave Him there as we drive home. Cell phones start ringing with news of sick kids. Emails start showing up in our inbox about the PTA carnival and the next women's event at church that needs to be planned. Laundry is piled up and work awaits.
Life is where we need God. It is when we turn to God in our daily lives that we are truly changed. It is when our pressures lead us to prayer, our worries lead us to trust in Him, and our relationships lead us to understand Christ's love for us, that we are truly changed.
I am all for the mountain top experience. This was the most restful and restorative retreat I have been on. I needed that time away. But I brought God with me and I took Him back home with me. The mountain top did not change me. God does every day, in little ways.