Retreat, verb (intrans.) withdraw to a quiet or secluded place. I attended the Women’s Retreat sponsored by our church this week. It was truly a place of quiet, beauty, and blessing. The key verse for the week was, And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ Mark 12:30 (NLT) We sang an upbeat song using the verse as lyrics but the real question is how do we do that? Life’s circumstances may cause us to build up walls in our hearts so that we can neither feel God’s love nor return it back to Him. Some hurts strangle our hearts so that it becomes hard and resistance to change. Spadework is then required before the water of Jesus’ love can filter down into the core of the problem and begin to soften that cold heart. That spadework may come in the form of friend, neighbor, or relative who may give some unwanted advice or counsel. Or it might come in a sermon or book. Our initial response is usually anger or fear because who wants to look at or feel the pain resulting from a difficult situation? This is one reason why God’s command includes that not only do we love Him with our heart, but also our soul, mind and strength. It takes all of our being to reconcile the love He holds out to us with the inner battle of self-reliance and complacency. We think we can handle most things. But even the rich young ruler walked away when confronted with the challenge of giving up the security of his wealth to follow Jesus. God is faithful to love us each day whether we return that love or not. He patiently waits for us to come to the end of ourselves and accept that love and forgiveness that He freely offers. So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) It may not be easy but I encourage you to take the risk to open yourself to Him and accept that gift of love. He promises that His love will soften and soothe a hurting heart and give you life.
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.”
Isaiah 43: 1-2