In addition to putting aside some time each day to rest in the arms of God and converse with Jesus, I recommend that you schedule a sabbatical alone with God at least once or twice each year. Based on the word Sabbath, a sabbatical is an extended amount of time set apart for the further cultivation of a love relationship with Jesus. Again, God loves it when you honor Him with the gift of time. What better way to honor Him and your desire for His presence than to schedule an extended rendezvous with Him. I’ve practiced sabbaticals over the past several years, and I’ve never experienced one where God didn’t lavish life-renewing love on me and give me a major revelation for my life or my ministry to guide me…
When I’ve asked women what hinders them from making the effort to run away for a retreat with the Lord, the three most common answers I received have been lack of time, lack of finances, and lack of help with the house and kids. If running away with God is something that you really want to do, you’ll get creative enough to make it happen. For instance, if you feel you don’t have a weekend for time alone with God, ask Him to show you ways to reprioritize to make some extended time available during the week, even if it’s only a few hours. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, and He’ll help you carve out time for such a high priority. If you can’t afford to spend money, be creative about how to get some time away. I often ask some people in our church to use their lake house for a few days during the week, and I take my own food or I fast during those days.
If you feel you can’t go away and retreat with the Lord because of household and parenting responsibilities, try explaining to your husband that you will be a much better wife and mommy if you have this time to yourself to spend with God. (My husband encourages me to go on these sabbaticals when I get out of sorts!) If you are a single mom and you cannot recruit sufficient assistance from other relatives, make a deal with a friend in a similar situation. Schedule two different weekends or other occasions where the two of you will swap houses. On the first weekend, you and your kids go to her house to keep her children and tend to her chores while she enjoys time alone with God at your house. Make it wonderful for her by putting wildflowers in a vase and some fresh fruit on the table. Stock the bathroom with bubble bath, some facial scrub, and a sweet-smelling candle. Leave a mint on the pillow and some relaxing CDs in the bedroom. Then when it is your turn, she’ll take care of your house and kids and treat you to a getaway at her house with God.
While it’s tempting to send your kids away and stay home, I have found that this never works as well because I get distracted by the mounds of laundry, rampant dust bunnies, and stacks of mail. So go somewhere. Offer to house-sit for people. If you are adventurous, go camping. Get away from the normal surroundings and routines and have a refreshing new experience with the Lord.
In case you are wondering, “What would I do on a retreat with God?” (that’s the Martha in us all, feeling like we have to do something.), next time we’ll discuss some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Remember, think like Mary (see Luke 10:38-42)! This is an incredible opportunity to get away from it all and bask in Jesus’ presence, although some of these ideas will suit both the Mary (the worshiper) and the Martha (the busy do-er) in you.
Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.