I've gotten a lot of questions about the Abbey of Gethsemane and I promise to do a huge post when I return with pictures, etc. and tell you more about it. One thing that I did want to address though is the power of intention.
First of all, there's nothing magical about any place. God is not anymore at the Abbey than He is right where you are or where I am. The environment is conducive to finding Him, yes, but certainly not because He is only there.
You might be better at focusing. You might be able to spend time at your house or wherever with the Lord and accomplish a lot spiritually. I've tried it several times and failed miserably. I can't do it. I'll play on the computer, go to Target, go for a walk, take a nap, watch a movie, read a book - nothing wrong with any of those, but not the purpose of a spiritual retreat.
Early last year I felt like God was telling me, "I want you to be intentional about your relationship with me." I knew I had to be more committed. Being sold out to Him wasn't going to work if I only read my Bible when I felt like it. Getting to know Him was going to take several lifetimes if I only prayed when I needed something. And at some point I knew God was going to have to stop being a part of my life and be my whole life.
I have been so consumed with my life the past months that I cannot breathe spiritually. It's been wonderful. Lots of the activities with Christ at the very center. But for months now I've felt like I'm "doing" Christianity and not letting Christ live through me. I've felt more lately like I'm coming at Him with an agenda instead of coming to Him to hear from Him and learn from Him.
Sometimes we just have to be intentional. We have to give God the time He deserves to work. God always accepts our sacrifices as precious to Him.
And can I be honest and say it would be easier not to go? There are so many things I want to do next week. My friends who are teachers are on spring break-I want to spend time with them. I want to stay home and do nothing for a few days. I am physically exhausted especially this week. I would love to catch up on some rest and hang out on the couch with the dogs and watch movies. I'd love to read a book. I'd like to keep up our marathon training and not take 3 days off when we just got started. I'd like to go to the gym and go for some walks. Really, I would.
I think the idea of driving 10 hours to spend 36 hours in silence sounds a little lonely and boring at the moment. I have some serious things I need to address with the Lord and I don't necessarily want to know what He will have to say about them. I need answers to some spiritual questions, but what if the answers are not what I hope they'll be?
But I feel like right now what my life needs more than anything is some fresh interaction with the Lord. I need some vision, direction, hope, peace and joy-all of which are found only in Him. It's worth the time, it's worth the money, it's worth the effort and it's certainly worth anything I would have to give up to spend time with Him. I think sometimes we have to say to our spiritual lives, "I'm taking this seriously." And then do it. Sometimes we have to say to Satan himself, "I'm giving time, money, energy, etc. to this because I want to see you destroyed in this area." And I know he gets nervous when we jump out of our comfort zones.
So, I'm going and if it's like many times before it will be life changing, a deal breaker, and a game changer. We can never have an encounter with the Living God and be the same. Ever.
And for encouragements sake? You don't have to go to Kentucky or Africa or the Moon to be intentional. You can make efforts today to take your relationship with the Lord seriously. You can tell Satan with your time, your energy and your money in small ways and big that the Lord is important to you and you're not giving up.
All I know is the overwhelming desire of my heart is to know Him. To live like Him. To act like Him. And to find Him while He may be found. I don't even know what that means exactly, but I plan to find out. I cannot help but believe that even in the mundane activities of life His desire is to reign supreme. And if He can find ways with this little life to do that-it would be the honor on my heart.