“I can’t be gone for a whole weekend. Who will take the kids to soccer?”
“My husband hates it when I’m gone. It’s not worth the hassle.”
“It’s out of my comfort zone and a little scary.”
We have a hundred reasons why we shouldn’t go to the women’s retreat. Some years the voices win out, and we stay home. Later, when we hear the glowing reports from others about how wonderful it was, we feel a pang of regret, but it doesn’t last long. “Oh well,” we say, “maybe next year.” Other times we make the extra effort, and we’re the ones sharing happy stories and telling how glad we are that we attended.
I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, and I’m a firm believer in women’s retreats. Here are a few reasons why, with accompanying evidence from the Scripture in case you need extra persuasion.
1. Because it’s hard to hear God’s voice above the noise of everyday life.
When is the last time you sat before God without a To Do list hanging over you, a pile of laundry the size of Texas Stadium in the background, or family members pressing in on all sides? If you can’t remember, you need to attend a retreat.
“To retreat” means to leave our normally occupied positions and go to a place of safety, quiet, and seclusion. By going to a retreat, we physically remove ourselves from life’s distractions, the call of chores, and the demands of people in order to make space for God. If you think you’re less spiritual because you struggle to hear from God in the cacophony of your daily life, be encouraged. Even Jesus recognized the value and need to get away.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
2. Because we need each other.
Faith is contagious. Just like a virulent virus, it passes from person to person through close contact. Today’s busy world allows little time for women to share faith stories, pray together, and hear biblical messages written with women in mind.
As we consider and apply God’s Word together, we learn from each other’s varied backgrounds, experiences, and insights. The better we understand God, the stronger our faith becomes. Then we can strengthen others. Hearing other women’s testimonies about God’s faithfulness helps me realize that God will also take care of me. Hebrews 10:25 spotlights the value of mutual encouragement and warns us not to neglect corporate worship: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”
3. Because meeting together spurs us on to “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
The Greek word for “spur on” is paroxusmus, which means to stir someone up. It has negative connotations, such as stirring up disagreement, but in this passage, it underscores the fact that meeting together as believers helps us love and serve God and each other better.
4. Standing side by side with our sisters in Christ, and worshipping, praying, and learning about our precious Savior makes us stronger.
When I join a group of women singing praise songs to God, I experience a taste of what Heaven’s going to be like when we’re gathered around his throne. When I sit with my sisters and open God’s Word, the insights I gain as we study together add weight and credence to its truth. When I pray for others, and they pray for me, I know I’m not alone, no matter how heavy my burden is. Some years their faith strengthens me, and other years my faith strengthens them. Together we bear each other’s burdens.
For these and many other reasons, I place a high priority on women’s retreats.
When my children were young, it took a great deal of planning and preparation to be away from my family. I’d prepare meals in advance, swap carpool duties, and cash in spend-the-night favors. Some years were financially challenging, and I had to find creative ways to finance my getaways. I’d save my birthday money, squirrel away coupon savings, or apply for scholarships. Other years I’ve struggled spiritually and had to push myself to go even though I didn’t want to. I’d invite a friend to join me so I couldn’t back out or commit to carpool with friends. On every occasion, I returned refreshed, strengthened, inspired, and closer to the Lord and my sisters in Christ.
I’ve never regretted attending a retreat, but I’ve often regretted not attending. If you’ve never attended a retreat, or you haven’t in a while, why not make plans to attend one? You’ll be glad you did.
This article originally appeared on Crosswalk.com.
Lori Hatcher is the author of several devotional books, including Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , which won the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020. She loves to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).
By Lori Hatcher