It seems like we’ve all been on retreat for four months. Four. Long. Months. We left behind daily life as we knew it in the middle of March and headed home to escape the dangers of the coronavirus.
In Exodus 24, Moses spends 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai with God. He wasn’t so much escaping from the day-to-day management of the wandering Israelites as he was retreating to the presence of God.
The word retreat is interesting. It’s a noun, it’s a verb, you can retreat from or to something, or do both at once. Christians go on a retreat to spend focused time with God, to learn and discern, to rest and grow, and to be changed by the experience.
God is always with us but we are not always with Him. When He seems distant, it’s we who have moved away and given our attention to something else. If the sanctuary of your home is feeling more like a prison these days – and even if it’s not — retreat to the presence of God, as Jesus so often did. Shift your focus to Him.
It can be as simple as taking an early morning walk and leaving the earbuds at home. Revel in birdsong and bunnies, the light and shadow patterns of tree branches, cool breezes and so many shades of green. Enjoy them, and thank God for them.
Or devote time to prayer, to reading and reflecting on the Bible, memorizing scripture, singing psalms and spiritual songs, dancing to the music that is in the Word. And certainly, ask God’s help to make sense of these strange days, to see the blessings they contain and to discern what insights and behavior changes we should take with us when life is easier and freer.
When Moses came down from the mountain, he was changed. And ready and able to deal with the Israelites who had been busy worshiping the golden calf in his absence. When we retreat to the presence of God, we too are renewed and strengthened – and equipped to deal with whatever comes next.
Draw me into your presence. Strengthen me, change me and send me out to do your work in the world. Show me new ways to glorify you in this strange time. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She and her husband Jim are the editors of a quarterly journal about antique side-by-side shotguns and Cheryl is the co-leader of Sheridan’s new Card Makers group. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA, and their son Reed of Madison, WI.