GETTING AWAY AND GETTING WITH GOD
by Eric Elder
Note from Eric: We’re just 4 weeks away from our 2nd Annual Ranch Retreat! I hope you’ll join us here in person, but if you can’t, I hope you’ll watch our broadcast live that weekend or later on the website. I’ve recorded a special invitation this week to tell you more about the retreat that I hope you’ll watch below. I’ve also written a message to encourage you to take some time to get away and get with God to hear what He might have to say to you, whether you’re able to come to our retreat or you take one yourself wherever you live. God has so much He wants to share with you, and it’s so much easier to hear Him speak when you intentionally take some time to get away and be with Him. Here’s my video invitation to our retreat, followed by a message on getting away and getting with God.
Have you ever been so busy you don’t even have time to eat? If so, you’re not alone. Even Jesus and His disciples found themselves inundated by the needs around them.
Thankfully, Jesus has a solution. Listen to what He said to His disciples after a super-busy time of super-charged ministry:
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:30-31).
You might think that by simply working harder or working longer you’ll be able to get more done. But the truth is, we all need times of rest and renewal so we can get charged up again to do all that God has called us to do. If Jesus needed to get away for times of rest and renewal, as He often did, how much more do we need to get away, too?
One of my favorite memories as a kid was going on our annual church retreat with our family and friends to “Woods Camp,” a nearby retreat center. Even though it was only 20 minutes away from home, going out into the woods for the weekend was somehow magical. We explored the woods, ate pancakes together in the lodge, sang songs of worship and listened to encouraging messages.
At night, we’d cook marshmallows over a bonfire, make s’mores and play a game called 4-square with a rubber ball and 4-squares of chalk drawn on the cement on the front porch of the lodge. I especially remember singing a 3-part round of “Love, love, love, love, Christians this is your call” in the chapel in the woods on Sunday mornings.
As an adult, I found a new love for retreats. I discovered they were not just for fun and games, but a way I could hear from God more clearly. When I moved to Texas to take a job after college, I went to a retreat in Grapevine, Texas, with a group of young adults. It was there that I first opened up to a small group of people and told them that I really wasn’t sure what I believed about Jesus. Even though I had been in church all my life, I still didn’t know for sure if Jesus was real, and if He was, what difference it would make in my life. One of the guys in that small group invited me to come study the Bible with him and a few others guys each week so I could learn more and find out for myself. By the time the retreat came around the next year, I was a brand-new Christian, having heard God speak personally to me. I put my faith in Jesus that year and have been loving Him and following Him ever since.
What makes getting away and getting with God so special? I think it has to do with simply “turning aside” to see what God is up to, as Moses did when he turned aside to look at a bush that was burning–but didn’t burn up–in the desert. God used the bush to get Moses’ attention, and when God saw that Moses turned aside to look, God spoke to him. The Bible says:
“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.’ When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am’” (Exodus 3:2a-4).
That simple act of turning aside changed the course of the rest of Moses’ life.
You might think that this message is simply leading up to a shameless plug for the fall retreat we’re hosting here in Illinois next month, and I guess in part you’d be right! But believe me, I’m not promoting this retreat for my own sake, but for yours. I simply know the power of getting away and getting with God, and my desire is to help you experience that power in your life, too.
I also know that you may not be able to come to Illinois and join us in person, but thanks to the Internet, you don’t have to! We’re planning to broadcast the retreat on the Internet so you can watch it wherever you, both live on the weekend of the retreat and stored on our website to watch later. Whether you join us in person, or join us online, I hope you’ll take some time to “turn aside” and see what God is up to. Our prayer is that the weekend will increase your faith in Jesus and help you walk out your faith with more strength and confidence than ever before.
If you are coming in person, we need to hear from you as soon as possible, as the deadline for registering is just 2 weeks away, Monday, September 29th. You can use the link below to learn more and to register. And even though you’ll see a price listed for the retreat, we don’t want cost to keep anyone from coming who wants to come. Just send us a note by replying to this message, and we’’ll send you some information for how you can register at low cost or no cost at all. We simply ask that if you do register, you do come, as we’ll have a place reserved for you and meals for the weekend, (plus a gift bag my 11-year-old daughter is putting together for you, and we don’t want you to miss any of it!)
For those of you who can’t come but want to watch online, we’ll be sending you more instructions for how to do that as we get closer to the retreat. You can always check for updates at www.theranch.org.
To learn more about the retreat or to register, please visit this link!
As a final note, I’d like to encourage you that you don’t have to wait for a retreat to get away and get alone with God. You can get away by taking a walk, or going to church or finding a friend with whom you can talk or pray or read a chapter of the Bible together (if you don’t know what else to read, try reading John chapter 14 as a great place to start).
When John Wesley’s mother, Susanna, needed to get alone and get with God, she would simply sit in a chair, pull her apron over her head, and that was enough to let her numerous children know that she was spending some quiet time with God! Whatever it takes, I encourage you to get alone and get with God, too. As Jesus said:
“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b).
Have a blessed week, and hope to hear from you soon about the retrea!
Why not get away and see what God has to say? Click here to learn more or to register.