I had the enormous privilege of attending an overnight pastor’s retreat earlier this week. Present were a group of men who I see only every twelve months, yet they remember my prayers year in and year out.
Each year, new church planters show up, we pray for them, and they are quickly enfolded.
Our music is a ragtag band of talented musicians who play without worry of appearance or fear. The worship is vibrant and soul-churning.
Yet, this year, I arrived and was surprised by how quickly my heart closed. Recent challenges and disappointments tempted me to remain on the periphery. As the old saying goes, “Man plans; God laughs”. I soon discovered that every attendee was assigned to a prayer group of 8-10 men, and there were at least four hours set apart for prayer.
We were promised anonymity, yet I didn’t budge. A pastor or two shared, and I sat quietly. Finally, from the Spirit’s prompting, I said, “I don’t really want to share anything with you guys, so I guess that means I need to go next.” What followed were attentive ears to my pains and sympathetic prayers of care. The time spent with those men was sweet.
How about you? Most of you will not have the opportunity to get away for an overnight retreat this week. Many of you may not have a trusted friend who you feel will keep your concerns confidential. However, we all are called to move towards intimacy in the church and to offer up our fears and worries with honesty before the Lord. I Peter says,
1 Peter 5:5 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
So, friends, if you are weary and burned out, cast your cares upon the Lord, and if you have been burned by the church, pray for great faith and press forward in humility. Know that at the proper time, God will lift you up.
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