For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Christian Disciplines: Silent Retreats

I know you just got here, but take 30 seconds to stop reading this and listen.

Listen to the distracting noise around you.

Listen to the distracting noise IN you.

Ready. 30 seconds. Or a minute. Minute might be better. I'll be here when you get back. Alright. Go.

Right now in my world, my dishwasher is running but keeps banging on something, so I'm wondering if the dishes are really getting clean or not and what kind of damage that is doing and if I'll need to replace some part of the dishwasher soon because of it.

I'm thinking about my daughter's orthodontics appointment in two hours and wondering if I can get this done and get the website for my personal protection started with a possible post to the blog.

I'm wondering if the wind will be so high that kayaking is a bad idea because I'm feeling kind of overloaded and need a break and maybe kayaking would do that but if the wind is too high...and, yes, it comes at me in one very long, fast-paced sentence.

And I'm wondering if I should have gone to the gun range this morning or not, and how hard is it going to be to relearn shooting with my left hand, and are increasing inability to use my right eye muscles for long periods plus the optical migraines a mountain to overcome or God's way of saying to put the guns down, and if I put the guns down will the people who custom made my competition rifle understand that competing isn't even a possibility anymore?

Then there is the whole other....

There is a lot of noise in my brain, plus the phone that has beeped twice just in the short time I've been writing this and the email that has come through and the lure of's a lot of noise. It can get so loud that it is hard to hear God.

Even setting aside time each day for prayer and Bible reading or study, the noise can be hard to hear through.

One of the ways to handle it is a silent retreat.

Think of it as detox for the mind and spirit.

It's not complicated. It is merely taking a large chunk of time and turning off everything except God. Don't turn on the TV or the computer. Leave the phone alone. No radio. Not even worship music. Don't take an agenda. This is not intensive petition time where you pound heaven for what you want. This is when you get quiet and let God tell you what is on His mind.

All you need is a Bible and journal, and sometimes I don't even take the Bible because if I get antsy because God is too quiet for too long, I'll start reading the Bible just to hear "something". Silence is hard. But it is worth it.

When Elijah ran from Jezebel, he hid in a cave. The Bible tells us there was a great fire, but God was not in the fire. There was a great earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Then there was silence, and God was in the silence.

You may be wondering, as folks often do, how long do you go and where you are to go. I don't know. I try not to make hard and fast rules about these things, but when I first started, it would take me a day or two just to detox and be okay with the quiet. Now, I can spend a few hours on the water and have the same effect. On heavy ministry days, I'll take an hour and go to my room where all I hear is white noise (blocks out the voices of the teenagers in the house) and meditate on a scripture or just let myself breathe and wait for the Lord.

As for where, I've tried bed and breakfasts. I ended up becoming friends with the hosts. I've tried camping, and that was good. I like places where I can meditate or focus on natural sounds like water, birds, crickets. Not coyotes. Coyotes do not have a good effect on me. Fishing is good. It's repetitive. Mostly mindless. And that is what you want. Mindless so your mind is open to the Lord speaking. Oh, I turn my phone off. I always have backup folks for the kids, who are now teenagers, so there is no reason why anyone should call. Yes, there are emergencies that happen in life, but for the most part, those are rare, and believe it or not, in the days before leash phones, folks had quiet days, emergencies happened, and life went on. I'm willing to risk it. If I am at a B&B or hotel, I give the number of the establishment so folks can reach me there in case of an emergency. A few years ago when I went to Arkansas, I had set times, 2 times a day, when I would contact the kids. I was in a no cell service area, perfect for retreats, and had to go to the ranger office to get service, so I did that first thing in the morning and in the evening before they went to bed.

Also, I try not to eat out or be around people at all. I'll end up talking most of my time away, and I get little accomplished.

There are no absolutes with this. I don't know where your quiet place is. Some like the beach, just sitting on the sand listening to the water. Some like being on the water. Some like a hunting blind. I have a friend who is so self-disciplined she simply unplugs all the gunk in her house and hangs out in her own hammock. If you are single with no kids or the kids and spouse leave, great! Cheap. Food at the ready. Low planning. It's good. Plus, it's your own bed, and you may sleep better.

Some folks fast during their retreat. I have done that. I did not find that it helped me, but, I am also not sure that was what God wanted from me on that fast. I can honestly say I think I did it as a way to prove my seriousness and convince God to speak to me. He won't respond to that, thankfully. Even with fasting food, you need to have water. Don't give up water.

I am trying to explain how a retreat works so you don't think it is a matter of going, parking on a lawn chair, and expecting a booming voice from heaven. When I go on these retreats, it is about communing with God. I want to hear Him, but I also talk to Him. I tell Him how amazing the trees are or how wonderful the frog chorus is. I make the conscious effort to be in awe of Him.

I choose to acknowledge my need for Him.
I consciously think about love that wants time with the messiness of me.

I focus on Him, not on me, but on the wonder of Him, and when I focus on how wondrous He is, He often opts to be wonderful.

On one hand, I am tempted to be still and make conscious note of the quiet or silent time I have with the Lord. My real concern with doing that, though, is people take that as the only way to do it or they try to make it a road to a goal, and it is really about the journey with Him.

Really, that is what a silent retreat is--a journey with Him, to hear Him, and know Him.

The details are between you and Him because only the two of you know where you connect best.

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