Preparing for the Task
I grew up in a relatively poor and dangerous part of South Carolina in small town called Bennettsville. In Bennettsville life was fast. We could never afford to take a chance to breathe because life for my family was always a game of catch up. Subsequently, we never had time for vacations and camping trips or anything of that sort. If we were lucky we could escape to a bridge over a creek with my uncle or grandmother and fish for a few hours. But that’s the thing, an escape is just that, an escape. When you return you are in no better shape than when you escaped.
Last weekend when I was in Estes Park, Colorado, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, I understood why Jesus went into the wilderness. I was overcome with the joy of a child as I marveled in God’s unlimited beauty. I stood on the side of a mountain pass and overlooked the valley. I saw elk, deer, and more snow than I have seen in the entirety of my life. I was surrounded by the love of Christ by my other ACMNP members and staff. God’s creation in a state that is scarcely touch by man is just magical and it has to power to heal, revive and renew. The important part is the revival and the renewal, because this is what separates a retreat from an escape. Jesus went into the beauty of the wilderness, not to escape the wickedness of man but to prepare himself to combat it with His proclamation of the Gospel. We are called to do the same.
I am already filled with joy as I prepare for my retreat into the wilderness but I recognize that it will be a rest station and not a stopping place. My job as a Christian (and your job too) is to proclaim the Gospel through word and deed for all the world to see. This summer is a time to prepare ourselves for this task. So I am going to have a blast. I will hike 100+ miles, make tons of new friends, and hone my preaching and communication skills. When the summer is over, I will be refreshed, renewed, and ready to prepare the way for the Lord.