Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Psalm 113:3 – From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
Mark 6:31 – And Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
As you may have read (unless NAPC emails go to your spam folder and if so, be ashamed!), last Friday, a few hours before our flight to Uganda, two of the last three members of our mission team had to pull out due to positive tests for rabies (actually something else). It was down to just me. A mission trip of one didn’t make sense. After months of planning and preparing (I even packed the night before!), to be denied at the last moment was disappointing. Yet the truth about God’s providence is very helpful in situations like this – we planned our way but the Lord established that our steps would remain in North America. He is good all the time and His plans are always for the eternal well-being of His people even when we plan differently than it turns out.
So instead, I spent the weekend with my family playing board games, watching some great NFL football, hanging out at Pins with another family until a fire alarm chased us away to what we called the “poor man’s Pins,” Lazer Craze, and worshiping with my family like everyone else. Monday, I made my way to the land of the Enemy (Michigan) to enjoy a few days of prayer and reading (many thanks John and Andrea Hays and Rudy and Paula Okkerse for their gracious hospitality).
I try to take one retreat a year by myself to pray, read, catch up on administrative details I’ve been studiously avoiding, plan and rest. As with Ohio, it has been bone-chilling cold outside. Because I am on a lake (Devil’s Lake . . . for a prayer retreat . . . perfect), I have had the chance to walk on water each day. Of course, only One can walk on liquid water, but walking a few miles on solid water in the middle of God’s glorious winter creation is pretty incredible. I started at sunrise the other day, and from its rising to its setting, God’s name be praised.
I walk and pray for a long time during these days. Sometimes my mind wanders. Often I repeat myself. But I do feel a great well of gratitude and joy at being a creature in our Father’s world.
I love to read. It is one of my favorite activities in the world. Since I was in 4th grade and I earned the “bookworm” title for our end-of-year awards (thank you Mrs. Litle), reading has been a lifelong blessing. But I don’t read nearly as much as I would like in my everyday life. After a decade plus of not really knowing , I still cannot figure out whether I just need more discipline to make time in my schedule, or whether my work (meetings, visits, emails, preparation to teach, teaching and preaching) is rightly prioritized and I just have to live with it. Reading is what I look forward to the most on these retreats. Here is the material:
I am working through it all slowly but surely, sifting and noting and underlining and storing up for future blogs and sermons and FAQs. What a joy. Thank you for the gift of time away, alone but not alone, enjoying the blessing of a desolate place with our Savior.
Serving and resting together,