The first week of this month we attended a week-long retreat through MTW called Living in Grace. It was held in Brevard, NC, a beautiful place nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I must confess that my attitude initially going into this week was what I’d call “no bueno”! I was flustered because I thought this was something in which the whole family could go, but when I signed up online 6 weeks prior I realized that we couldn’t bring children. Fortunately, my dear in-laws could keep our son. Unfortunately, it meant spending a day’s time driving to Colorado with a potty-training toddler and a very pregnant me, and then turning around the following day to fly to North Carolina from Colorado. The logistics seemed daunting to me, and I already felt tired and drained. Tired and drained mostly from the thoughts floating in my head these last few months: “You’re failing in every role you play right now,” pretty much sums up my destructive thoughts. Blame it on pregnancy hormones, the devil, some combination of things, etc., any which way you sliced it, I was in a bad way.
Looking back on how I felt (and the adjectives I used in the previous paragraph) pointed to my need for the week focused on grace and the restfulness of a retreat! And by God’s grace, that is exactly what I got.
Restfulness came in the form of waking up every morning to the peaceful sounds of the woods and a view of the lake, 3 meals a day that I didn’t have to plan, prepare, serve or clean up after, uninterrupted conversations with my husband, a little hiking and enjoying fellowship with other missionaries in the same stage as us, as well as some veteran missionaries.
Perhaps the greatest restfulness came in the form of the focus on grace. I quickly realized that out of my desire for control and approval I had been operating with a spirit of self-sufficiency and pride—a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality, and it was sucking the joy out of my life. The song “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” came to mind because I knew that it was in the strong arms of Christ which I needed to be relying, not my own. The first verse and chorus go like this:
What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Words: E. Hoffman; Music: A. Showalter
Leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ I find joy divine and peace is mine! Oh, how I needed this message. Oh, how I needed those everlasting arms to reassure me that there is nothing that I can do to make Christ love me any less or any more. He has already paid the price for me, and I can rest in Him.