Hey friends, on the heels of un/defined, I wanted to republish this post I wrote a while ago about getting back to reality after a “mountain top” experience at a retreat. Hope it’s helpful to you!
Drawing back on my decade-ish of retreat experience, this is what I know:
I know that what has happened in our hearts this weekend is not as important as what will happen in our hearts in the coming weeks and months.
Because, yes, it is amazing to be together, and YES, those things God did in your heart are real and yes, oh yes, wouldn’t it be great to stay right here but….because no matter how much we feel transformed when we get quiet and listen for God; when we sing our hearts out with almost 900 other women, when we pray and receive prayer together, transformation is about what happens next.
So I leave you with four tangible next steps, four steps to take as we come off the mountain and crash back into life. Four ways to make the learning stick and to maintain the momentum. Here they are:
1. Pray. As my pastor Pete says, “Prayer is our spiritual breathing apparatus.”
Go home and try this, something I learned at a middle school camp: When you wake up in the morning, say “good morning God.” That is the opening of your prayer. When you go to sleep that night, say “Amen.” Make your entire day a conversation with God. If you are new to it, you might want to try writing them down. If you don’t know how to pray, get into a church. Find an older woman and ask her to help you. Hang out with believers that have been around for a while, and look for the ones who are really joyful. Those are the ones who know how to pray.
2. Use your imagination for transformation.
Consider Colossians 3:12, which tells us to clothe ourselves. Tomorrow morning, when you put on your clothes, imagine yourself putting on your new self. Give each item of clothing an attribute, and as you dress, imagine yourself putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Ask yourself the questions that Jesus asks people. Put yourself in the story. Imagine it happening. Let it unfold. And repeat, every day, with every new outfit.
3. Meditate. Memorize a verse or even a phrase.
Sometimes our anxieties get stuck in our head. Anxieties are like the “Electric Slide” (boogey woogey woogey woo!); stuck there even though you don’t want them. Change the station. Psalm 119:97 says “Oh how I love all you’ve revealed! I reverently ponder it all day long.” Most of us cannot spend our days staring into our bible. You’ve got to get some of those verses into your heart so that you can change that anxiety station whenever it pops up. Even if you memorize one verse this entire year, that’s one more verse in your soul. And God’s word is living and active and never returns void. As Beth Moore says, “no time is wasted in God’s word.”
4. Offer a sacrifice of praise.
If praise was always a feeling that just welled up in us, why in the world would Hebrews 13:15 say “let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise?” Last I checked, sacrifice always had a cost associated with it. Sacrifice requires killing something or giving something precious up. When we offer a sacrifice of praise, we die to ourselves–our agenda, our idea of how things should go–or we give up something precious–our plans, our dreams. We tell our souls that no matter how we feel about it, God is truly faithful. No matter if we feel like praising or not, he is worthy of our praise. And when we do that, continually and intentionally, he gives us back in abundance because our hearts become changed.
In the coming weeks, we will have the teaching sessions from un/defined released on video, and you can hear most of the worship songs from un/defined on this playlist from Spotify.
If you feel alone or unsure in your faith, and you are reading this post, you are not alone. Start taking one step at a time. Get into a great church (listen to our podcast on that here). Get around some amazing women (check out Hope’s offerings here). And remember:
“When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, I will make myself available to you,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NET)
Don’t journey this faith alone. Reach out to us, to someone you met this weekend, to someone in your neighborhood or your church. There is full, abundant, more-and-more life avaiable to you in Jesus, and you are beginning an exciting journey of faith when you begin to seek him with your whole heart!