Monday, February 21, 2011

After the Retreat

I left my notebook, and my Bible, at Shamineau bible camp.  That's two hours north.  So I won't be able to give a good overview of the men's retreat I attended with about a hundred or more men from the Dassel-Cokato area.  I'm very glad I went though, and when my notebook is found most likely some specifics of what we learned will be shared here.

One moment, however, stands out for me, maybe because I had my own doubts about whether I ought to have gone on the retreat in the midst of this very busy moving time.  Someone I've known from church was expressing those same thoughts, having struggled with whether to leave his family to come along.   Another man got up and reminded him, and all of us, how important it is to get ourselves connected with the source of life so we can be there for others.

He recalled what flight attendants say before takeoff.  If an airplane cabin were to lose pressure emergency oxygen masks for each passenger will drop from the ceiling.  The flight attendants always reminds us that if we're traveling with loved ones, even with children, we should resist the impulse to get their masks on first.  Instead, they say, "always put on your own mask before trying to help others with theirs."

It's good and important that we make sure we're connected with the Lord before trying to help anyone else.  That's what men and women do when they go on spiritual retreats, or when they take time to gather with others for Bible study and prayer.  That's what we do every day as individuals as we spend some time in God's Word and in prayer, especially on the busiest days, and especially when others are depending on us.

Don't try to help others without being securely connected with the source of life yourself.

I'll be preaching on John 15 this coming Sunday.  Using another analogy, Jesus says:
"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
To "abide" is to live and thrive and grow while being well connected with the source of life.  Usually that "connecting" means disconnecting, at least for awhile, from the busyness and business of our days, even when it might seem that we are abandoning our responsibilities to help others. 

Abiding in the Source of Life is not an option for those who know Jesus.  Taking "spiritual time" is something we need if our life is to be authentically based in a personal relationship with the Lord.  Without it we will fumble around and, in one way or another, lead others away from what they need themselves.  Without taking time for that connection, we can lead others to depend upon themselves.

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