No Retreat….No Escape.. but no need…You are Holy
Devotional Thought of the Day…
“God is not removing you from your environment. He is not taking you away from the world, or from your condition in life, or from your noble human ambitions, or from your professional work… But he wants you to be a saint—right there!” (1)
Well, we made it to Saturday! The week is seemingly over for most of us, and we can enter a moment of rest for our weary bodies. If you look at the freeway last night, or this morning, there were people on their way out of town. Some were in RV’s, others pulling toy haulers, others on their way to the bright lights of Vegas. All working at a feverish pitch to escape, to get away, to escape. Some are leaving on more nobler causes – a weekend retreat in the mountains with other people who trust in Jesus. Even so, there is a sense of haste, a sense of a need to escape the world.
Throughout the centuries, people of faith felt this need as well. Whether it was the acetic monks finding caves in Egypt, or the orders that built monasteries that looked more like castles, some of talked of the need to escape the world to pursue holiness. And they did. To tell you the truth there is a great temptation there for me, to escape the distractions, to escape the conflicts, to escape the temptations and the problems of life. That was the thought then, that holiness and full concentration on God could be attained if we only gained enough separation from the world. What they tried to do for a lifetime – we have sped up – and seek the same things in a weekend!
I know myself though, and it is my nature that anything could become a distraction from God. Instead of a charged comment on Facebook, it could be the ant trail. Instead of the commercial with scantily clad models selling a hamburger, or a phone, it could be hunger. Jesus understood what makes us tick, and He said “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:20-23 (NLT)
So if our reason for escape is to avoid temptation, to avoid sin, to pursue holiness/sainthood, then we can’t succeed by simply running away, or finding a remote place.
Another reason to try and escape the world would be “rest”, yet I’ve seen the work it takes to get my camper ready for the weekend. The stress of driving through traffic, and then the stress of setting up, and taking down, camp. Not an easy thing! For 20-25 hours of rest we add 12 more backbreaking hours of work and driving!
The quote got me thinking practically today.
If escaping the world (for months/years) and its “input” doesn’t help us find either great rest or achieve holiness, then what does?
I believe the answer is found quite simply, in being transformed into the likeness of Christ just in the place we are. For there is no place on earth where we cannot find Christ’s peace, where we cannot find rest and holiness as we abide in Him. Jesus said we are not of the world, yet He also said we are in it. Our vocations are found in life, in work, in our marriages, in being parents and children, in being friends, in being part of a community. In being apostles, sent by God to share the hope of His love and mercy and presence.
It is here, as we live in Christ, that we find our rest. It is here, that we find out our holiness, our being set apart.
For He is here, because the Spirit has gathered us, because we have been united with Christ, and causes us to abide in Him.
You have no need to escape, no need to retreat from the world you know, save for short periods of time to pray, to study His word, to Worship. but those things must be part of your daily life here. Pray unceasingly, find your focus in your devotion to Him.
Know that you dwell in His peace!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1428-1430). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on November 3, 2012, in Devotions and tagged feverish pitch, life, monasticism, prayer, rest, retreat, scantily clad models, spirituality, vocation, walking with God, weary bodies, weekend escapes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.