Monday, April 19, 2010

The Shalom of ADVANCE

I recently went to a "pastor's retreat" in order to recharge my engines as a pastor.  In my church, with the economy the way it has been, and with recent staff "transitions" I have been feeling very overwhelmed by life in general.  So, my thought was that I would RETREAT to a pastor's retreat, and there I would find God's peace.

The problem was that once I got to the retreat, the challenges that I was facing back at home were on my mind the whole time.  In addition, I was with other pastor's who were bragging about how well things were going at their churches, and the leaders of the conference were giving solutions which weren't helpful for me.  Soon realized that I would need to RETREAT from the RETREAT if I was going to find God's peace.

I went and spend time by myself, in the forest with my Bible and in prayer.  Nobody was around.  It was just me.  And yet, I was not at peace.  Even there, in the midst of nowhere, I felt this unrelenting sense of my burdens at home.  Then, in a non-audible voice, but still a strong presence, I felt God telling me; "Graham, the shalom (peace) you are looking for will not be found in RETREAT, but in ADVANCE.  Go back and face some small part of your challenges at home, and then you will feel my PEACE."  

I returned home and the first thing I did was organize a meeting with the person that I least wanted to connect with.  I talked to one of the people that I had been RETREATING from.  After the meeting, sure enough, I found what God was promising me - PEACE.  

So often, the peace that we are looking for, the peace that God wants us to have, does not come from RETREATING but ADVANCING.  The peace that God offers comes not in withdrawing but in connecting, advancing, going forward, making small steps towards the future.

Moses did not want to advance towards the Egyptian government and confront Pharaoh; "O Lord, Please send someone else to do it" (Exodus 4:13).  He thought that peace would be best attained by withdrawing from life and living in the wilderness.  However, it was there in the wilderness, in Moses' retreat, that he heard God's voice to GO, move forward, push ahead.

God wants you to have SHALOM (peace).  Often Shalom comes from RETREATING, but more often SHALOM can be found by stepping forward into what God wants to show us and provide for us, even in the midst of difficult challenges.

All for Now,