Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Her Apron Retreat
By Venice Kichura
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Mom, Johnny pushed me and grabbed my pencil.
“Mom! Mom! MOM!
I’m sure this was a typical scene at the home of a woman known as Susanna. Most of the time she had at least two babies in her arms as she calmly took care of the rest of her busy household of 21. She even home schooled all her children.
Her husband, Sam, who was a poor money manager, would often walk through the door with a downcast face. He would say, “I’m sorry, Susanna, but the deal didn’t pan out. We’ve lost everything.”
Imagine having 19 kids and a husband who acted like one. Twice her house burned down and once her husband spent time in jail. She’d lost nine of them as infants (including two sets of twins) and another child was permanently crippled from a tragic accident.
Sounds like this stressed-out wife and mother needed to get away from it all. If anyone deserved a week long retreat in the woods or quiet time in a monastery house it was Susanna. But she couldn’t afford to get away from her family. Often, her husband wasn’t home. One time he left for an entire year, leaving her alone to raise all 19 children.
Was there any rest for this poor, weary woman who lived in another time and place?
Oh yes! Susanna Wesley was a wise woman. She couldn’t get away from her home for a retreat, but she retreated every day of her life. It wasn’t at a comfortable weekend retreat house away from home, but under her apron, sitting at her kitchen table, that she found inner strength. All she had to do was throw her apron over her head and her family knew it was Mom’s time alone with God. It was her sanctuary where she fellowshipped with her Lord and recharged her battery to get through another day. She might have been an 18th century super mom, a Proverbs 31 woman, but she got her strength from God.
Today the world has Susanna Wesley to thank for the Methodist church, as her son, John, founded the denomination. And another son, Charles, gave us 9000 beloved hymns and poems.
If this English mother of 19, who lived 300 years ago under such excruciating conditions, could carve out time for a daily retreat right in her home, then I don’t have any excuses.
As an empty nester, my distractions aren’t children. My contenders are the telephone, the television, the computer, and all the other electronic gizmos that compete for my time with God. To get alone with the Father, I need to set aside time to focus totally on Him. This requires using my answering machine to take my phone messages and reframing from checking my e-mail every half hour.
I can’t say I’m as disciplined as Susanna, but I do know of a modern day saint who’s kept a daily date with God throughout her many years walking with Him. Don’t try calling evangelist Gladys Lee at 4 p.m. on any day of the week because her phone’s off the hook. She’s alone in her bedroom, her makeshift prayer/throne room, spending quality time with her Heavenly Father. Like Susanna, she, too had a busy household, raising 12 children. Because of her daily retreats with God, several of her children have joined her in the ministry. She’s believed God to supply the finances not only to pay her bills, but she’s also been able to travel to the Holy Lands, fulfilling her lifelong dream.
A widow today, Gladys has buried two husbands and doesn’t have much money, but I don’t know anyone richer with spiritual blessings than Gladys Lee who lives in Riviera Beach, Florida. She’s had many trials in her 75 years, but if you ask her how she is, she’ll tell you “Honey, I’m just blessed, blessed!”
A weekend retreat away from home in a peaceful setting is needed and we should all try to periodically go on one. But, even then, we can’t live 24/7 on a mountaintop. We have to come down in the valley for ministry.
However, we can daily get alone with God, whether it’s under an apron or a tree. It’s only then that we’re reenergized to bring the healing power of Christ to a hurting world.
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