Thursday, October 1, 2009
"Sometimes I sit'n think; other times I just sit."
Judy and I have been coming to Duck in the Outer Banks as part of a yearly retreat since 1986. The story of how that began and continues is amazing and full of the grace of God but perhaps I'll share that some other time. This post is about what my seaclusions are like. By the nature of God's calling upon my life and the place He put me in ministry He has granted that my life is typically full of constant demands and decision making. As Executive Pastor most all staff ministry and business decisions pass through my desk. It's also my privilege to help shepherd the people of Timberlake Baptist Church and specifically those in the Abundant Life Class. This means I also carry their burdens and beyond the business aspect there is the continual interface with the people in the ministry and their needs. Like most all pastors or missionaries that is a 24/7 hour call. I rejoice in and am grateful for such a privilege. But each spring (Usually Oak Island, NC) and each fall (Duck, NC)Judy and I take a Seaclusion. Some would call it a "vacation" and part of it has that kind of aspect to it but most of it would better be called a retreat. Psalm 46 records; "Be still and Know that I am God." Genesis 2 records that "God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made." I find instruction and a principle that has sustained me these many years of ministry and life.
It has been said this way by others; "If you don't come apart for a while (retreat), you'll fall apart." In my "seaclusion" I immerse myself in the scriptures both through a planned Bible reading schedule and a planned study course. I also bring several "faith building" books to read. I set aside my mornings, usually about 4 hours and my late evenings, usually about 3 hours for primarily immersing myself in the God of the Word and the Word of God. During the in between times I relax, eat, play and nap! Some might say that all that study and reading . . . all planned in advance, doesn't sound like "rest." To that I would answer that when God "rested" He was not idle. There is no better rest than the "still waters and green pastures" of God's Word to "restore your soul." When I "rest" it is with a purpose and thus a plan. I rest from decision making. I rest from the normal activity and pressures of life. I rest by "unplugging" from the ministry and its associated burdens as much as possible. By resting in the Word I am resting from "barrenness of business" and retuning my heart to the still small voice of the LORD first by immersing myself in His word and also by sitting still before the Lord and just meditating upon His person. I immerse myself in the gospel and reflect upon the fact that by grace through faith (both His gifts to me)"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for me; that I might be made (remade - born again)the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor. 5:21)
In a practical sense this was my plan this fall. Daily I read the book of Ruth and made this awesome little book the primary target of my study time. as part of my Bible reading I also read the Proverb for each day. I read five psalms each day. (By doing this you read through the Proverbs and Psalms in a month)I also read through the book of James because our Pastor is preaching an expositional series through this book and I want to keep my head and my heart in that awesome study even though I am away from the church for a couple of weeks. I added to this several commentaries on Ruth for my study time. I brought a years work of "Pulpit Helps" magazine that I subscribe to and reviewed many of the articles in them. (It is a monthly publication.) And I am reading (rereading) John MacArthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus," the revised and expanded anniversary edition. I also am reading his book "Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong." I would recommend both these books to anyone regardless of if you're on a retreat, they are insightful and scriptural to the core.
Lastly and just as importantly I spend my retreat time not only alone with God but alone with my "Beloved" of nearly 41 years. As I rekindle my love for the Lord it also rekindles a deep appreciation for my bride. I spend hours just talking with my sweetheart. I spend "just sit'n time" looking at this amazing woman that I love with all my heart. As I gaze upon her I pray for her and thank the Lord for His great and gracious gift to me and our family in her. I listen to her and sit close to her. I watch the sun rise and the sun set with her. I walk with her slowly drinking in her attention while I give her mine. A pastor's wife is an asset to the "church" beyond anything the typical church can really understand. She bears much of the weight of the ministry along with me and she is my constant prayer partner, counselor, and co-laborer in the gospel ministry beside being a Proverbs 31 wife, mother, and grandmother who is truly a "Keeper of the Home" and one to emulate. I make sure that she also "rests" and "refreshes" herself on our annual retreats.
Seaclusion is almost over for 2009. God is very good to this unworthy sinner. His grace never stops amazing me. He has given me abundantly above all I have asked or could think. His graciousness stuns me and I hope I never get over it! So there you have it. What a PB & J retreat is like. Yes, Peanut Butter and Jelly (Pastor Brodie & Judy). We "stick together!" :) And we'll soon be heading back to the people and the calling we love because Christ is our life!