How to Make Your Entire Life a Spiritual Retreat…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. Mark 8:34-35 CEV
Or to use another metaphor, our faith on earth is a solemn engagement and Heaven is the marriage. Our destiny is to be so intimately united with God that, as the mystics say, we not only see God’s face but also see with God’s face. We share in His own consciousness and love. Here on earth, too, personal intimacy, whether in marriage or in a lasting friendship, means not just being close to the other person as an object, but sharing his or her own thoughts and feelings, having a common outlook on life, a common face.
For this union the very stars were made. For this union God came an infinite distance from Heaven to earth, from divine glory to humiliation, from holy purity and innocence to a criminal’s death on a cross, from perfect oneness with the Father to the Hell of being forsaken by the Father—all this just to marry us!
Jesus commands us to forget about ourselves. How is that to be when I must feed myself, take my pills, take time out for bodily functions, work to pay the bills for where I live, and how I get back and forth from there to work (and church?)
There are so many things to think about, how can I lose myself? I suppose I could go on a retreat for a couple of days, but then all of life awaits me when I return, often with an incredible vengeance!
Over my life I have been on a lot of good retreats, many of them are “mountain top” experiences. Yet, that is my problem with them, they often leave us with a distorted idea of what being a Christian should be like. And then the world, waiting for our return, hits us with the power of a hurricane. All of the pain, the angst, the anxiety hits, and it apparently missed us, so tightly does it want to hold onto us, making sure we never leave it again.
Somehow, I need to make my life a spiritual retreat. I am not talking about moving into a monastery, I am talking about finding a way to make the average daily grind of work and home life a place where I can forget myself, and dwell in Christ.
The simple way, of course, is to find something so meaningful that our desires, all our pains, and all the “other” stuff of life fade into the background. Think of the young couple in love, and how everything else disappears, every moment is looking forward to the next time they are together. Hopes, dreams even pains are shared, as they support each other. If you ask why the other person cares for them that much, they have no clue, but they wouldn’t trade it for the richest, most attractive member of the opposite sex.
Our relationship with God needs to become more and more like that. Kreeft uses the word intimacy, and I think that we need to understand that. Our relationship with God isn’t just a, “Hey, I’ll see you next Sunday, or maybe on Wednesday!” We need what God desires, to have that relationship where we desire to be with Him, as much as He desires to be with us.
That’s a hard one to accomplish.
There is only one way for this to happen.
For us to realize how completely God loves us…
How much He completely loves you, right there where you are. How He doesn’t just ignore your faults and your betraying Him, but He actually takes care of all those sins at the cross. The reason He does that – to make sure they don’t get in the way of the relationship.
The more we understand His love for us, the more we fall in love with Him, the more we need to hear it, and treasure when we do.
And unlike earthly crushes – and loves, He is always faithful, always there, willing to do what is needed to make our lives just right.
KNow that, revel in it, and rejoice that you dwell in His presence! AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 29.