The Kingdom Come at Church Retreat

God doesn’t have to talk me into praying the Lord’s Prayer. “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I naturally long for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done. It is a regular groaning of my soul before God in prayer. Usually in life, I feel vexed by all the ways God’s kingdom is not yet realized. I pray, “Lord, show me where You are at work. Show me where Your kingdom is coming.” I need to see what is good in order to persevere through what is bad.

This weekend my family went to Church Retreat, and I got a glimpse of the good. I got a little glimpse of where God’s kingdom is already coming, and I got a little glimpse of what it’s going to look like when it comes in its fullness. There just seems to be something about a Christian retreat that naturally clears away many stumblingblocks to seeing God’s kingdom come.

Retreat – the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; dictionary.reference.com 

We withdraw from big and small issues at a retreat. I didn’t see anyone all weekend with whom I had a major conflict (or even a minor one for that matter). I didn’t do laundry all weekend. I didn’t cook. I didn’t have to wash dishes, and my kids are old enough now that I could send them on their merry way to play with others on their bikes. I also took a break from reading work emails. I didn’t take my laptop and managed to ignore the boatload of responsibilities that were still waiting on me when I returned home. For 2 days, I didn’t worry about any of those things.

Instead, I did things like breath deeply and enjoy the sunset. I hiked a path through the woods and watched kids happily playing in the pool. I took in views of the ocean and mountains while sharing laughs at the dinner table, enjoying meals I didn’t make and didn’t have to clean up. Of course, angels weren’t making our dinners or cleaning up afterwards. Someone was doing the work. Yet, I remember well from my own service at a Christian camp and conference center that there are certain settings in which you remember that work didn’t start after the fall.  You remember that God worked in perfection, and there is work that is hard but still good, rewarding, and peaceful nonetheless. I think I could work in that camp kitchen with that view and that blue sky at that temperature with those people daily without complaint for a very long time.  We whistle while we work when God’s kingdom comes.

Our church retreat reflected to me the Eden for which we were originally designed and also pointed me to the New Jerusalem in which we will eternally dwell. 

Two particular aspects of this Eden stood out to me—community without conflict and worship in the face of majesty. First, community without conflict. I know that there likely was conflict at various levels for many participants this weekend. For many, just the stress of having small children in a new setting inevitably caused conflicts. But I was fortunate to experience a mostly conflict free weekend of community. My boys experienced community with both kids their age and grownups, including the mutual sharing of bikes and scooters. At meals, kids mingled in and out of families. In the evening, parents would put down kids to sleep then sit together outside their cabins talking and laughing. There was a mutual nature to the community this weekend that made me understand the beauty of the early church as described in Acts.

Second, we worshipped in the face of majesty. I love Sunday worship. And I love beautiful landscapes. But Sunday worship in a beautiful landscape, well that’s almost unbeatable. It reminds me that we were created for paradise. Eden was a step beyond the Corona commercial. And whatever the landscape surrounding the New Jerusalem, we know it will be glorious for God Himself is its sun. There is something about worshipping God in the beauty of His creation that increases the joy of worship for me exponentially.

Then I had to drive away from the retreat, back down into the slog of daily life. I wanted to grasp and hold on to the feelings of community and worship for dear life, but I knew it was fleeting—a vapor that I could not grab and contain. Others had to get back to work and school as much as my family did, and it’s hard to have community when everyone else leaves the compound. But I am holding on to the feelings that community without conflict and worship in the face of majesty evoked in me this weekend. The memory of how that felt reminds me this busy Monday of what I was created for in perfection and what God is calling me back to for eternity with Him. That little glimpse ministers much grace to me, whetting my appetite for the day His kingdom comes in its fullness. Lord, come quickly.

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

5 Responses to The Kingdom Come at Church Retreat

  1. Natalie September 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I loved reading this. It has been a long, long time since I experienced one of these kinds of retreats, but your post brought back the memories and feelings of retreats from the past. It also gave me hope of that future Rest, which, in turn, gives me courage to keep “slogging.” Thank you for the reminder. So glad you had a respite, however brief.

  2. Anonymous September 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    amen

    indeed in this house we groan longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked for indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.

    the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly too for the revealing of the sons of God; the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together with us, the first fruits of the Spirit groaning within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

    so… we consider that the sufferings of this present time not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us; and we hope for what we do not yet see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it !

  3. Curious Thinker September 19, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    Sounds like you had a great time, glad you enjoyed it. God Bless.

  4. Dr. Diana September 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Amen,

    Its most wonderful post I have ever read.

    Really good stuff indeed 🙂

    To be at all is to be religious more or less…

    Regards
    Dr. Diana Hardy

  5. Jackie Randall September 22, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Your post was such a refreshment to my soul as I read it this morning. Exhausted, headachey, heartsick, overwhelmed with the agony of the world at large and within my own family……and then I remember…..God is working. God has a plan. There is a future for those who love Him…..and it is GOOD. Thank you, thank you!