6 major takeaways from the ‘Find Rest’ territorial holiness retreat
They were dreaded words. They were unwelcomed words. They were words that, as a child, would inevitably lead me, as it might most children, to frustration, anger and tears. “You need a nap.” “You need to take a rest.” “You need quiet time.” Tears would ensue, arguments would be presented to plead my case to the contrary, that I most certainly did not need a nap. However, now in my 40s with children of my own, I understand that Mom and Dad were correct—most times they could tell that I, indeed, needed a nap.
Sometimes, there is just no other cure for the occasional ill-mannered temper of a child. Sometimes they just need to be told to take a rest, to lay down, to be quiet, to go to sleep. It’s only when they wake up, fully rested and feeling better, that they realize how much they needed it. A lot changes as an adult from when you were a child. But some things don’t.
As adults, we still need good rest. However, even as adults, we don’t always like being told that we do. We grumble and make excuses for why we can’t rest. We clutter our schedule so much (sometimes with good things) that we cannot or do not find the time to rest. But God, our Heavenly Father, knows that we need it, even if we cannot see it. He is a good Father who calls us to rest. Jesus himself calls to us saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
“Find Rest” was the theme of the Territorial Holiness Retreat, held at The Salvation Army Camp Del Oro and Conference Center in Nevada City, California, March 16-19. During the weekend, 63 delegates were reminded that the health of our personal holiness journey depends on our own soul care. In The Salvation Army we care so much—selflessly—for others that we are charged to care for as a movement that sometimes we unintentionally neglect our own soul care.
Psalm 62:1(a), the central verse of the weekend, served as a focal point, reminding us that my soul finds rest in God alone. While there will always be missional work to be done, we must allow God to work in us first. Territorial leaders Commissioners Colleen and Douglas Riley bookended the entire weekend by emphasizing that it was to be a time of both physical and spiritual rest. They called us to step away and take time to pause our regular routine and care for our souls. The invitation was made plain and clear and beautifully set the tone for the richness of God’s goodness that would lay in between.
To expound on the importance of soul care to personal holiness, Dr. Stephen Macchia shared wisdom and insight from God’s Word. Some major takeaways include:
1. Spiritual Depth
Spiritual depth is not the accumulation of things piling up, rather the work of God underground, deepening into the soil of our hearts. The temptation is to accumulate superficial stuff (to do lists, degrees, knowledge, rules, friends, activities, accolades, etc.) and we confuse it with depth and richness. Eventually, all of the superficial things distract us and keep us from pursuing true spiritual depth in the deepest soils of our hearts where roots are wanting to grab hold.
2. Spiritual Revival
Spiritual revival is the surprising work of God which only he can do. It is an awakening of the soul. Spiritual renewal is the daily Spirit-guided making of choices to bring about change (committing to Scriptures, committing to community prayer and confessing our brokenness). It is an active pursuit of the spiritual disciplines.
3. A Prepared Heart
In looking to the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13), Jesus, as the sower, will lavishly and generously sow. Not all people are ready to receive, but there are others who do receive the seed. What makes the difference in the soil of hearts ready to receive is humility and availability.
4. Creating Space for the Spirit
Soul care can practically be carried out when we create space for the Spirit— when we are open and attentive to him, when we are unrushed and restful and when we live a lifestyle desirous of transformation. Such transformation can only happen when we position ourselves close to Jesus. We can do so by not forsaking our quiet time with God, which can be as simple as spending time in the Scriptures, in prayer and in reflection.
5. Rest in the Wait
When we are waiting for God to do his work and resting in him, it is helpful to remember a sailing adage, “When sailing, wait for the wind. Oars are a whole lot harder.” While it is tempting to rush through the waiting, we do better to find rest in the wait.
6. “With-ness” is our Witness
Our “with-ness” is our witness. We are called to be with God and with others. Only through time with God do we gain permission to witness to others. We can only be as effective to reach others for the kingdom as we have allowed God to reach us. Spending time with God is central to soul care.
We experienced rest for our souls throughout the weekend with inspiring worship music, testimonies, workshops, fellowship and times of reflection. Hearing from the weekend speakers and workshop leaders, we received God’s calling to find rest in him. It was a weekend filled with nourishment for holy living.
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