Returning From Retreat With Hope

On Monday evening at the Bishop’s Retreat, Randy led a time of prayer and reflection, looking at 1 Kings 19.1-9a. He asked “What are you running from?” and “What are you running to?”

On Tuesday evening, I concluded our look at Elijah with 1 Kings 19.9b-15a, which begins with Elijah in a cave where he has spent the night.

The Lord’s word came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

14 He said, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back … (Common English Bible)

Two times, God asks Elijah, “Why are you here?”

Both times, Elijah answers by telling God what he is running from.

Finally, God simply says, “Go back …”

We are at a retreat. The military definition of retreat is to withdraw. I knew this part of the definition. This retreat is a time to withdraw—from the things you are running from.

But I never realized that the military definition goes on to say that one withdraws to find a more favorable position.

We, too, have come to retreat so that we can “go back” having gained a more favorable position, having gained sure footing, having regained perspective, vision, and renewed hope.

We concluded the evening in small groups, reflecting on, discussing, and praying for one another, around the question, “How has God prepared you to ‘go back’?”

What has God given you to “go back” to your ministry?

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