Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: A True Retreat
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Carol flopped into the chair, exhausted. She was on the verge of tears and fighting to will them away. She was a strong woman and crying was not going to help anything, but the fatigue and constant demands were wearing her down. And now, the final blow; she wouldn’t be able to go away to the women’s retreat she had been so looking forward this weekend. She had been holding on to that reprieve from her anxious life for months, and now she couldn’t go. Jim was sick and she couldn’t leave him. Her husband needed her and she had to be there.
It seemed everyone always needed her, but she was not allowed to need anything. Her job was to just keep going and going and going.
Carol could no longer hold back the tears and as they flowed down her cheeks she found herself crying out to God. “Lord, please help me, I just can’t take any more”, was all she could say. A quite, but almost audible voice came “I hate to see you cry, Carol, but I can’t, help you. You won’t be still long enough for me to give you rest”.
Carol sat thinking about the words. How long had it been since she had even slowed down long enough to have her prayer time? Was it two days, three? She didn’t even know. Carol sank to her knees beside the couch and tried to pray, but all she could do was cry. She laid her head on the couch exhausted.
Carol thought about her mother. Years ago when her mother told her that the cancer was inoperable, like a child, Carol had laid her head in her mother’s lap and cried while her mother had stoked her hair. She remembered how much she had felt like a child on the day her mother went on to be with God. How alone she felt even though she was a grown woman with a husband and children of her own. Her growing up years had been hard and full of things a child should not have to experience, but her mother had been her one constant, her protector, her mentor, her best friend and now she was gone.
Many times since her mother’s death, the empty, lost feelings had returned. It was as if the one person who had truly loved her unconditionally had gone away and she was all alone in a huge world where life was just too hard.
On one of the days that the pain and loss were almost unbearable, Carol had laid on her bed weeping. She longed just to be able to see her mother and talk with her. As she laid there crying, she literally felt her mother’s lap beneath her cheek and the wonderful comfort of her mother’s hand stoking her hair. That memory had comforted her many times since. Carol had always believed God had given her that experience as a gift.
But today, as she knelt beside the couch, she felt her face against soft cloth and a hand stroking her hair. In her mind, she tried to look up, hoping to see her precious mother’s face, but it wasn’t her mother’s lap where her head was resting, it was God’s lap. God himself, her Father, stoking her hair as she cried. She cried out to Him of all the worries and things there were to do and all the pain she was feeling and as she did, she realized it had always been God who comforted her. Why had it taken so long for her to know that? God was her constant. He had never left her. He was always there waiting for her to run to him.
Carol allowed the tears to run freely now, but she was smiling. The words she had read so many times came to her. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 1
Kneeling there with her head in God’s lap, Carol felt peace and strength come over her and she that this was the true retreat, a retreat that was hers anytime she would come to Him.
1 Matthew 11:28 NKJV
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