Posted by: Philip Rushton | August 7, 2014

Guest Reflections From The Prayer Retreat

Last week we hosted our third annual day of prayer at the Alton Collins Retreat Center. One of the highlights for me was the small group session at the end of the day where people had a chance to share what they experienced. I was encouraged to hear how God spoke to each person in a unique and personal way.

So this week, instead of writing my own reflection, I thought I would invite some of our retreat participants to write a short reflection about how they encountered God last Saturday. Here are a few thoughts from Julie Rushton, Kay Tira, and Cec Conner.

A Reflection From Julie Rushton

I often feel guilty for not spending more time in prayer and devotion and I often feel guilty for wasting time doing inane things like browsing Facebook or scrolling through Pinterest. This particular guilt is what I brought with me into the Confession portion of last week’s prayer retreat as I sat on a rock near Deep Creek. For me, “I should sit down and pray and read scripture with my full attention and a full span of time” falls into the same vein as “I really should give up all sugar” and “I should start a daily running regimen.” Ultimately, it’s daunting and more guilt inducing than motivating.

As I was guiltily brooding over this worn path of “should” and staring at the rocks in and around the stream, I noticed an empty caddisfly larvae casing. (It might also have been a mayfly or stonefly casing; I’m not sure). As I picked it up and set it gently on a rock in front of me, I noticed another and then another.

CaddisflyCaddisflies, and other similar species, lay eggs in the waters of streams and rivers where, when hatched, the larvae begin the process of covering themselves in bits of rock, pebbles and sand (and sometimes even twigs). They slowly add to this casing as they grow until they are fully matured adults and can leave the water and fly away leaving behind these delicate cylinders. What a unique and beautiful design! During this period of their lives they use all the bits and bots around them, just what they have at their disposal, to create something useful and beautiful.

I looked carefully at these little remains and was struck that I am not called to something I cannot do, but rather to be a steward of the bits of time that I do have. I felt the Spirit, liberating and encouraging, reminding me to look at my small “moments” as chances to simply turn my face to God. God knows my personality and knows my day and my environment and what time I have at my disposal. While I may not be able to pray for an hour at a time (with a toddler in the house a five minute phone conversation can be a challenge!), I can use the bits and pieces of my day and my self. A pebble of turning my soul towards God, a small rock of thanks, a grain of supplication, a twig of adoration; these are not wasted moments nor are they inconsequential. By design and by necessity they are what God desires of me in this time of my life.

A Reflection From Kay Tira

I wanted to attend the Prayer Retreat in previous years, but the week-day schedule prohibited it. I’m grateful for the Saturday opportunity this time. Alton Collins Retreat Center is a wonderful location for stillness and reflection and prayer. Saturday was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed the woods, the birds, the trails… the quietness.

The idea of “Making Space to Hear the Voice of God” is both intriguing and convicting, and reminded me of my then-4-year-old’s question on the heels of “In Jesus’ Name, Amen”: “What did He say, Mom?”

A call for reflecting on the Saturday Prayer Retreat is almost like that same query. What did He say?

One thing that stood out to me during the day-long focus was the passage in Mark, where Jesus asked the disciples what they were talking about on the way. They didn’t answer (because they were talking about which of them was the greatest). Although He knew that, instead of scolding them or rejecting them, Jesus sat down and called the twelve to Him. He then gave them the example of a little child… He showed them a better way. To be great, you must be the servant of all.

While the child and servant piece is most familiar, this day the idea of Jesus sitting down with the twelve and talking to them, touched my heart. He didn’t reject or scold. He knew their hearts – their weaknesses and pride – and called them to Himself.

At one point during the day, I passed a fellow-pray-er on a trail in the woods. She reached out to hug me and whispered, “God is in the stillness.”

I received that.

If I were to sum up the day, I would readily say it was good. And as for, What did He say?… Come sit with Me. Let’s talk.

I didn’t feel scolded or rebuked or rejected. I felt welcomed. Loved.

A Reflection From Cec Conner

Psalm 46:10.…Be still and know that I am God………

Sitting still in the forest of trees reaching toward the heavens, I truly found God in the stillness. Our creator gave us this green beauty, and too often, we do not take advantage of it—or of seeing our LORD at work through nature.

Saturday was a time to reflect on the wonders of how great our God really is . . . and how He is ever present . . . a time to worship and adore Him . . . a time to look inwardly and acknowledge that we are not always the person He wants us to be, but knowing at the same time that He forgives our shortcomings. . . a time to think about how gracious He has been to us throughout our lives, blessing us with family and friends, providing us with an abundance of His goodness in so many ways, freedom, health, home, food, fresh air, water and so much more . . . a time to make the requests of our hearts straight to His heart, knowing he cares, always has and always will.

What a privilege to have an entire day with my LORD, just the two of us, one on one! My life is richer just because of that one day.

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