In the past four weeks I’ve led four Sabbath prayer retreats: two for church councils on different ends of the continent, one for a CRC Classis, and one for the staff of a Christian High School.
And I had to wonder, WHY?
Why did four different leadership teams ask me to lead a Sabbath prayer retreat on four consecutive weekends?
Is the Lord sending a message of some kind? Is there a pattern of need arising throughout the Christian Reformed denomination?
Each invitation came with a similar theme: “We sense that our leaders need to reflect on their own faith formation, and how the Spirit has been and is transforming them as they provide spiritual leadership in our community.”
This theme reminded me of an anonymous quote a student shared with a class I taught at Dordt College twenty years ago: “I’m too busy doing God’s work for God to do his work in me.” When he said it, I knew I was pricked to the heart. “Lord, that’s me! Help!”
These four retreats launched with two declarations from the Apostle Paul and a prayer of David:
(You are) ”… my dear children for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4.19)
“Confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1.6)
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps. 139: 23-24)
The tapestry formed by weaving these verses together shaped 2-3 hours of guided silent reflection, sharing of faith stories, and a gently reflective resting together in the Lord’s presence. After 40 years of worship leading experience, I’ve often learned how to read the silences of guided prayer times, and I sensed a deep hunger to “be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
Did you ever notice this verse tucked inside the action-packed gospel of Mark, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31).
Might our Lord be saying that to your leadership team?