Thursday, May 3, 2018
This past weekend I led a mens retreat for Burlpres (First Pres. Burlingame) at the Valambrossa Retreat Center in Menlo Park (pictured above). It was a great retreat entitled; "Braveheart: Every Man Dies, but Not Every Man Really Lives." We discussed a lot of really important topics like the difference between healthy risk and unhealthy risk, the role of work in our lives, the role of accumulation, and life in Christ. But what will remain with me is less what I taught from the front, but what I learned from the other men.
One gentleman, at the end of the retreat, when we went around the room to share what we had learned or gleaned from the retreat said; "The word that keeps coming to me is - REVEAL." He went on to say that what he had learned was that, "Real soul health begins with the courage to be able to reveal ourselves to one another. And then, the goal is to be able to reveal ourselves to ourselves." Wow, I had sat through many seminary lectures on soul healing and soul growth and had heard much less wisdom from the so-called "experts in the field.
Not too long ago a man in his mid-sixties came to meet with me in my office. After about 30 minutes of discussion about small, seemingly insignificant topic matter (the weather, the Giants, the Warriors), I asked, "So, what's on your mind?" He took the cue, and paused, and then said, "I've come to a decision in my life, that it is now time to retire. I have never used the "r" word out-loud with anyone else, but I feel like it's time for me to start to make plans to re...re...re....retire." After he said this, he began to cry. I asked him what was going on with him? He said, "It feels good to finally say it, and now that I have said it, it doesn't seem like it will be such a hard thing to do." This man had revealed his soul to me, and then, and in the process, he had revealed his soul to himself.
Self-Revelation of our souls to others is, it must be said, not always a good thing to do. Unless we find someone that we trust with our thoughts and processes, it can be a dangerous thing to do. Also, very often, we do not know what we ourselves are thinking about something, and so the words that come out of our mouths when we reveal ourselves with others are actually quite inaccurate.
When I was growing up as a teenager, and I would come home at the end of a long day at school, I would almost always be upset. "I don't like school, I don't like the kids, I don't like where we live," I would tell my mom. She would then ask, "Did you each lunch today?" "No," I said angrily. "Why don't you eat a burrito and then let's talk about it." After eating, of course, I would feel much better about the entire world. Sometimes the things that come out of our mouths do not REVEAL what we really think, but how we really feel in the moment.
An expert in Small Groups ministry (Dr. David Augsburger) once told me that it is actually quite unhealthy to share our most intimate thoughts with any more than two or three people in the entire world. So, you really don't want to encourage your small groups in churches to REVEAL themselves to each other. It's too much for most people to process.
But we can reveal our hearts to God. That, in the end, is the best definition of prayer!
All For Now,