Last weekend I took a 24-hour “personal retreat” to the Thabor Catholic Center in Kananga. Even 24 hours of stepping out of the normal demands of life and making time to rest, read, pray, and reflect make a significant difference! God knew that we needed a Sabbath.
I started reading the book The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer (thanks, Dad!). It felt like exactly the prophetic correction and challenge that I need right now. Tozer articulates with clarity and conviction God’s heart for active relationship with his people, and the ways that our sinful natures hinder us from recognizing and living into that reality. He says,
“Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.” (pg. 13)
The “world of nervous activity” too often keeps me preoccupied, hindering me from the peace of God and intimacy with our Savior that God longs for me to have. On this particular retreat, UNICEF was holding a big conference with 100+ people at the Catholic center when I arrived. To get some space and quiet, I went farther out into the neighboring field than I have ever gone, and God provided each day a place where I could be alone and be refreshed by the beauty of creation and His presence.
I felt like my eyes were being opened again as Tozer articulated ways that our sin blinds us and hinders us from becoming and doing all that we were created for. Through faith and by grace, we are made new in Christ – a new nature because the cross has broken the power of sin over us. In a poignant and powerful chapter called Removing the Veil, Tozer says “this rending of the veil [in the temple at the crucifixion] opened the way for every worshipper in the world to come by the new and living way straight into the divine Presence.”
Now, back in the throes of daily life, I have tried harder this week to take a step back, at least in my mind. Recognizing that God IS, and that he is HERE, with me, makes a world of difference in the midst of the “world of nervous activity” around me!