This past weekend nine youth workers stepped away from the busyness of life and ministry to simply be present to God and each other for a few quiet days in the woods of Western Pennsylvania. It was a youth worker retreat – not to talk about ministry or strategy, but rather, to simply disengage and rest, to enjoy God, His Creation, and a community of friends. This “Soul Thirst” focused on our postures of prayer and was led by our good friend and author, Doug Jones (To read an interview with Doug, click here).
We’re grateful for the men and women who have participated in Soul Thirst over the past five years, and we’re continually humbled by the blessing that it is in the lives of those who attend. There’s something so life-giving and refreshing about breaking out of the normalcy of our busyness in order to simply be still and be with God.
One thing that I think we’re all continually struck by is this: It doesn’t take much more than the intentional quieting down of our soul for us to become aware of God speaking in our lives. It doesn’t require much more than an attentive spirit to be able to experience God’s presence in our lives.
It is simple. It is good. It is refreshing at the deep levels of the heart.
It’s also something that we can capture in our everyday lives. It’s not exclusively reserved for retreats, and as we all say to our students on a winter retreat: it’s not meant to only stay at the retreat, it’s meant to come home with us and be embodied in the everyday.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God; but only the one who sees takes off their shoes.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
So two questions to prompt you:
- What noises, distractions, demands are in your life right now, which may be drowning out the still small voice of God?
- Where’s that intentional space that you could draw away to for a brief moment today in order to consciously attend to God’s presence in your life today? Where can you make room for a divine interruption?
Our hope and prayer is that we can all be aware of God’s presence with us right in this very moment – that should change everything for us. There’s a danger in leaving our spiritually attentive practices up on the mountain and failing to bring it home. There’s a danger in getting caught back up into rhythms of spiritual feast and famine. May we be people who “take off our shoes” everyday, and as we seek His face we may grow to become deep people.
“Deep people who know they need: solitude if they are going to find out who they are; silence if their words are to mean anything; contemplation if they are to see the world as it really is; prayer if they are going to be conscious of God, and if they are to ‘know God and enjoy Him forever’.” – Don Postema
About the writer: Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown is an Assistant Professor of Student Ministry at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, PA. He attended Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. Before coming to LBC, he was the Sr. High Director at Living Word Community Church in Red Lion, PA. Aaron serves as the Project’s editor and web guy.