Make time to retreat, connect with the Lord

Good morning, friends! I’m thinking that by the time this story publishes, the kids will be back in school, the garden work will be winding down, the sweet corn patch will soon be done for the summer and life will take on somewhat of a “normal” appearance … sorry, I guess I don’t really believe that, but it sounds good. Call me a skeptic if you like; I call it being realistic.

Is anyone out there feeling like me, just tired to the bone? Maybe I’m a slow learner. I’m sure this is how I feel by the end of every summer. If I’m very honest, I am honestly very tired of the pace! So, why does it always get this way? Hmm … I guess a time of reflection to determine why I keep doing the same thing to myself over and over again is in order.

What’s the motive behind the rat race? And where is God right now? I can’t seem to find Him!

I do realize that I am not the exception in this battle, and it is a battle – a battle to slow down and think about why we do what we do. I talk to so many people who tell me just how busy they are and how near they feel to “burned out.” Yet we feel, at least I feel, that everything I am doing is so very necessary. We are all so busy being busy that some days it’s hard to hear ourselves think. We continue down this path until we do collapse or get physically sick. Then, once we fall apart, we cry out to God to help us in our helplessness! Well, that’s a good thing, but it would be far better to avoid the crash in the first place.

Why do we do what we do? What lies behind it all? Are we looking for the approval of others? Are we obsessed with making money? Do we need special recognition all the time? Maybe recreation or materialism is the drive. Maybe, like many of us, you are controlled by your passion to achieve or excel at whatever controls you.

I’m going to be vulnerable right now and tell you that during the summer months and into fall, canning the garden goodies does control me. I have a passion for canning and usually end up somewhere around a thousand quarts of every kind of canned food you might imagine. Back in the day, when our children were still at home, I justified doing that. Truly, it was a way of life for us and quite necessary.

Honestly, there’s no sensible reason to keep canning this way, except that it gives me great pleasure … right up to the point of “if I have to look at one more ear of corn I might throw up!” So ludicrous! Yet, I continue down this path until I don’t set aside my quiet time with the Lord in the morning. That makes me miserable with myself, which makes me a nasty wife, which makes me unpleasing to God and ruins my testimony. I turn into a woman who is hanging on by the skin of her teeth and wondering where God is in the midst of my mess. Oh, it makes me just want to run away to the mountains awhile. Wait a minute … does that sound familiar?

Jesus often retreated to the mountains to be alone awhile. He took time to talk to His Father about all of His burdens. We know that during those times, Jesus interceded in prayer for the multitudes, but He also prayed for us before we ever breathed our first breath. Jesus was so in tune with God that His deepest desire was to do the will of the Father. Nothing more, nothing less. Ouch! Why do we do what we do? Is it truly to please God, or is it to please ourselves and others?

You may be saying right now, “Wait just one minute there! I’m the busiest person at my church. I teach Sunday School, lead a Bible study and sing in the choir. As a matter of fact, I am a board member and every time the church doors are open, I am there.”

You know what? Those are all wonderful things to do, but do you have a personal, growing relationship with the God who gave you life? Maybe, even in all our Christian activities, we are burned out. God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

There’s an old hymn I love, “Near to the Heart of God.” It says, “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God. There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God. A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God. There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God. A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God. O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us, who wait before Thee, near to the heart of God.”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Heavenly? Peaceful? That’s exactly where I want to be … near to the heart of God.

I guess, you know, right after the tomatoes tomorrow morning (old habits die hard), I am putting away the canning jars, packing up my Bible and heading to the mountains for some much needed alone time with the Lord. Who knows? I may even be a nice person again, and that would please me, God and probably my hubby, too. Blessings, as you take time to make time for God, which in turn, just might help you figure out why you do what you do!

Debby Renninger is a free-lance writer and inspirational speaker. She is the leader of the women’s ministry at Pine Glen Church of the Brethren and also leads a weekly Bible study, “Beauty for Ashes,” in her home in McVeytown. Renninger may be reached at 250-7086.