For When Retreat is the Only Way Forward (Word of The Week)


August 17, 2014 by Beth Hess

Song-of-Solomon-2-10One week ago today I found myself alone at water’s edge. Behind me the lake house and 30+ women who had been my companions for the previous 50-something hours. Our hands raised and hearts open to welcome our Jesus into every crevice of our hearts. Including the messy ones.

Especially the messy ones.

“Put your toes in the water,” the Spirit whispered to mine. And I obeyed.

Because I knew our special getaway was coming to an end. And I didn’t want to miss a morsel of His goodness.

Weeks before, when I was first approached about attending the retreat, I knew the answer needed to be “yes” — even as my schedule and my stubbornness tried to keep me home.

But the restlessness would not relent.

Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away. (Song of Solomon 2:10)

God himself was calling me to retreat.

Retreat. Rest and be refreshed.
Retreat. Step away from the battle to develop a better strategy for the next season.
Retreat. Apply a balm to my cracked and thirsty spirit. And reapply. Again and again.

Because sometimes the only way to move forward is to retreat. And regroup. And recharge. And reassess. And both recreate and re-create.

By Sunday afternoon we had done all that. Jesus & I. So I sat with my toes in the water, and there were no more words. And no need for them.

Perfectly comfortable sitting in silence with the maker of Heaven and Earth. With wet toes and a quenched spirit.

Ready to return.


Because time spent in the presence of Love will never leave you the same.

And now I am home. But still finding moments of Retreat.

The invitation has not changed. “Come away with me.”

And, again, I will obey.


I return each Sabbath for a fresh Word of the Week. For the God-breathed pages to come alive in a phrase or two on which to spend a 7-day feast. To meditate upon. To use as a jumping off point for whatever other words God would have me hear during the week. I would love for you to join the Word of the Week (WOW) discussion by adding your selected verse to the comments … or reflections on any scripture reading. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms — a wonderful community of writers who gather each Monday to share with you HERE.


12 thoughts on “For When Retreat is the Only Way Forward (Word of The Week)

  1. Oh, how the retreat lasts when we dare to let the Voice lead. I find it even in miniscule ways, like my half-hour drive to work. I switch off the noise of the radio and practice Presence and it’s just what my soul has been longing for. Thanks for this, Beth.


    • Beth Hess says:

      My drive to and from work is a beautiful retreat time, too, Kelli. Sometimes even just a minute to hit repeat on the CD player before I walk into a meeting. Let’s just call it a Spirit Spritzer!


  2. “Come away with me.” What a beautiful invitation he offers us, over and over, even though turn him down so many times. 😦

    Your words touch me:
    “Because sometimes the only way to move forward is to retreat. And regroup. And recharge. And reassess. And both recreate and re-create.”
    I want to remember this truth more and more. It sometimes feels counterintuitive, but it is spot-on.

    “Because time spent in the presence of Love will never leave you the same.
    And now I am home. But still finding moments of Retreat.”
    Yes! Ultimately we need to find those moments of retreat in our ordinary everyday life. Thanks for all this, Beth.


    • Beth Hess says:

      We just keep charging forward sometimes don’t we, Lisa … ramming into walls will all our force. When a retreat would offer a larger perspective of another option to get through the obstacle. Or a directive to wait. I am in a season of retreat. But God is downloading a battle strategy. I feel it. And when it’s time to move again, there will be no stopping us. I pray Retreat over you, too, friend.


  3. Natalie says:

    I enjoy the way you think and the way your share your heart. Verses and themes from this post are dear to my heart. So often when I read here, I find themes of something I have waiting in my own queue. That’s always a fun discovery.


    • Beth Hess says:

      Isn’t it beautiful how God repeats himself in so many ways to make sure we here him. To confirm what our own Spirits are hearing. I am blessed that you find that here.


  4. Friend, this is beautiful and thought-provoking, on so many levels. I would tell you all the parts I love about it, but I’d be pretty much quoting the whole thing back to you ;-D. This idea of retreating as the way forward is intriguing and profound to me. But above all, what makes my heart glad reading this, are the images of you that are almost tangible, finding a place of rest, to that beautiful point of comfortable silence in the presence of the Maker of heaven and earth. I’m so grateful you had that, that the thirsty place in your spirit was quenched, and that as you’ve come back home, you are still finding those moments in your day. Much love to you.


    • Beth Hess says:

      Oh, Amber. How I pray Retreat for you, friend. That you would allow yourself time to stop trying to listen to the battle plan while the bullets are still flying so close and the chaos makes it hard to hear clearly. And to find moments where you can come off the line, fill your belly with The Word and clean yourself with The Spirit and regroup. To return renewed. Love you!


  5. Cheryl Smith says:

    Your words were very soothing to my frazzled, rattled nerves this morning. There is no such opportunity for me right now to attend something like this, but how grateful I am that He meets with me, individually and personally, on a regular basis. It is up to us to come aside and obey His wooing right in the midst of life’s busyness and chaos. When we do…when we lay it all aside…to come aside and rest a while like He beckoned His disciples to do when He saw how torn and frayed they were, we find Him there, and it is SO sweet. So thankful for you, sweet friend. 🙂


    • Beth Hess says:

      That is the trick, isn’t it, Cheryl. To find retreat even in the midst of the busy-ness of life. But it’s there. Even just in short bursts. When we look. And, yes, it is so very sweet. Always grateful for your words here.


  6. Simply Beth says:

    Oh how I would love the opportunity to attend a retreat with you. 🙂 While Declare was a full weekend it also felt like a retreat. A beautiful few days of women coming together to declare His goodness and worship Him. Lovely indeed. It was this >>> “Because time spent in the presence of Love will never leave you the same.”
    I adore you, friend! Always blessed by what you share.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: