Thursday, December 11, 2008
We went to Ballingen (Schwäbisch Alps) last weekend. It was supposed to be a "Deep Impact" weekend and both of us went there with the expectation that it would be a time of "retreat", relaxing and simply spending time with the Lord. We had even fasted for one day to prepare ourselves spiritually for the trip.
We were in for a shock.
Our idea of retreat, turned out to be a conference-seminar. The first thing that struck us was that there was a pool! And we were like "why didn´t they tell us to bring our swimming apparel?" To which one of them said, "Perhaps there´s no time to go for a swim?". We were stunned.
How can it be that we drive 1.5hours to a snowy place, with nothing to do except, eat, sleep and swim - that there would be no time to swim?!?
True enough, we were to understand later what she meant. It was my first "retreat" in Germany and Stephan had never been for any "retreat" from the church either, except for a cell outing once a couple of years ago.
Our schedule looked something like this:-
Friday - Arrived at 6pm. Unpacked, had dinner and 1st session. Session meaning worship time and sermon.
Saturday - 1st session (9.30am to 1pm). Break for lunch. 2nd Session (4pm to 7pm). Break for dinner. 3rd Session (9pm to 11pm). Night walk with a torch in the snow (11pm to 12pm). I was completely exhausted. Didn´t sleep well the night before as I didn´t have my earplugs and to have 3 back-to-back German sermons just about did it for me. I could´t even absorb anything anymore.
Sunday - Session (9.30am to 1pm). Break for lunch. Pack bags. 2nd Session - feedback and prayer (3pm to 4pm).
On one of the nights, one of the pastoral staff prayed for us and asked us if we had a vision for our family. We were like ????. What vision? Isn´t it the general vision of serving God, loving people etc..... He then went on to say that he felt that that would be what God has in store for us this weekend.
In the car on the way back home, I told Stephan that when we left the place, I said in my heart, "I´ll NEVER come back here again. Never go for a "German" retreat anymore, if that´s what retreat means". Then I had a prompting in my heart that went, "Oh yes, you will". And I was like "Oh no, I won´t!" The prompting again, "Just you wait".
All of a sudden, there was a long silence.
vision -> burden, since both of us felt so burdened about the way the "retreat" went.
Then he said that both of us felt the EXACT same way. Both of us - husband and wife. That´s family. So he linked family to vision -> Family vision
And then Stephan also had a prompting that was like "Do you really think that I didn´t have anything in store for you two this weekend?". And it all suddenly made sense!
Could it be that God brought us to this "retreat" to reveal us His heart for a vision for our family? That there exists a real need to provide a space and avenue for people to come to REST in the Lord? For openness among the participants, to be real in their struggles in their spiritual walk? This retreat, we didn´t even know the names of some other participants, simply because there wasn´t anytime to get to know them! No games, no interaction. It was a very 1-direction communication (ie. The pastor to the people). I didn´t know anything about what the others did, why they were there at the retreat..... I also didn´t have the time to process things on my own.
And the best thing is, once we "figured" out the whole puzzle, the burden that we felt so strongly before was like suddenly lifted off our shoulders! We felt so relieved! Its like as if God was saying, "Finally, they get it!"
What this means for us in a concrete way is still not clear yet. We are trusting that God will continue to reveal it to us. Afterall, He was the one who made it possible for both of us to go for the weekend. We had to clear several hurdles first. I had to make sure that I didn´t have to work on Friday evening (which I didn´t have to, since I wasn´t scheduled down. And if I was, I wouldn´t have been able to go). Stephan had to solve some very complicated matters in his office before he came. Had to cancel out on 3 different appointments over the weekend to free up the time etc.