by Mary Kay Huck
My face caught the brilliant sunshine through the open sunroof. Praise and worship music floated up into the fresh crisp air as I drove up the mountain. “I tell you the truth, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” I was driving to Estes Park on my first personal retreat.
A good friend of mine had helped prepare my way. She put together a basket with piano CD’s, chocolate, tea, and a beautiful white teapot enveloped in an embroidered tea cloth. It was one of those touches that makes you glad you’re a woman – and have such a wonderful woman friend! I had also packed food for a couple of days and firewood. The cabin said it included a fireplace. One to build an actual fire in. My husband and I had been to a cabin before in Estes Park that also mentioned a fireplace. That one, however, was electric with red paper that tried to emulate a flame. Really? When I arrived at my retreat destination, the blackened chimney told me I’d have a “real” fire.
The purpose for my retreat was direction. My life had been going down a planned path for about 30 years (my planned path), and was now detoured onto a God one. What was my role now? What did God want me to do? I was at such a loss that I had to get away, focus on God’s word, journal. Mainly, just be quiet so I could hear God speak. And He did! I filled several pages in my journal as I experienced His light and direction.
When I reflect on that retreat weekend, I remember God’s glory and powerful presence. Mountaintop experiences are often like that. Camp, retreats, get-aways. Francis, our national missionary in Uganda, “goes to the mountain” to pray and hear directly from God. We don’t know if he actually goes to a mountain, or it is just a figure of speech. One thing about the mountaintop experiences – they are rare and you can’t stay there. You have to come down off the mountain. That’s where life and faith are lived out.
Christ brought three disciples up a mountain once. And they had quite an experience. Talk about light and glory! Peter (we’re just like him) wanted to stay. “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.'” – Mark 9:5. But they came back down, and notice that Christ came with them. I’m sure He felt right at home in all the glory, but He knew He had to complete His mission – live it out. In a short time, He was to be crucified. What I also find interesting is that in all the gospel accounts of the transfiguration, it is prefaced with Christ’s teaching of denying yourself and taking up your cross.
Oswald Chambers writes in his direct piercing way, “Never live for the rare moments, they are surprises. God will give us touches of inspiration when He sees we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never make our moments of inspiration our standard; our standard is our duty.” His verse for the day is 2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We live by faith, not by sight.”
So should we take retreats and experience the mountaintop? ABSOLUTELY! Just know that when you come home, there will be living to do! Perhaps a personal retreat scares the living daylights out of you. Why not consider going with a friend? That’s what I plan to do this summer. A friend and I are planning on leaving on a Friday afternoon. We’ll drive to our destination and get settled in two separate places. We’ll have dinner together that evening and then go our separate ways to have quiet time with God. Then we’ll meet back up for breakfast, and more quiet time away with God spent that morning. We’ll drive back “down the mountain” Saturday afternoon.
God may give us the mountaintop experiences and if you take a personal retreat, the chances are high. But He’s more pleased with the day to day obedience He sees lived out in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Today’s guest, Mary Kay Huck, blogs at Smooth Paths. She is a pastor’s wife who loves to read, write, walk her two dogs, ride horses, drink coffee with her husband on the front porch, listen to her two grown children and daughter-in-law share their lives, play the piano, and listen to classical music. Her husband, Gaylen, is the Pastor of Cheyenne Hills Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Mary Kay heads up the Hospital Visitation Team at the church and with Gaylen, leads a small group of young couples with small children. She works part-time as an accountant for the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Mary Kay and Gaylen live on 5 acres in Wyoming with their one horse, two dogs, and one cat.