|Principles of Retreat|
It’s no coincidence that ‘disciple’ lit. means learner. We all have ‘L plates’ on when it comes to the spiritual life, but some have been learning longer than others and can pass on their wisdom learned in the school of life (where the school colours are often black & blue). Prov 19:27 ‘My child, when you stop learning, you will soon forget what you already know’. In other words, it’s only as we’re open to fresh understanding in our walk with God, always learning, always applying what we learn to life as it is for us, that we are taught how to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This is what retreat is all about!
It’s a discipline of discipleship, part of our learning to follow Jesus & as GK Chesterton remarked, ‘If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing … badly.’ To be teachable means we are willing to learn from our mistakes because we’ve learned as Thomas Merton puts it, that ‘the only mistake that remains a mistake is one from which we do not learn.’ It is a case of keeping on keeping on.
A good example of the disciples learning this important lesson from Jesus can be seen in Mark 1:14-39. These verses portray Jesus in the midst of a busy and demanding schedule. After his baptism and the call of the 1st disciples, v14-20 we see him actively performing his mighty works & causing amazement by the authority of his teaching–
- In the synagogue v21-28 = casting out demons
- In the home v 29-31 = healing Peter’s mother in law
- In the street v 32-34 = healing/casting out demons into the evening.
However, it’s only as we come to v35-39 that we realize the secret of his stamina and spiritual strength. Not only did he understand the need to prioritise, he lived it out; he chose to make time to listen to the Father’s heart, & as a consequence was able to follow God’s agenda rather than the demands, pressures and expectations of others. In seeking to understand retreat, this spiritual principle is crucial because it’s so easy to be taken in by the myth of ‘spiritual busyness’ just as the disciples were here in Mark 1.
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