Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
By Al Boyce
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After the three-day retreat, we had new friends, new tie-dyed shirts, new songs and an age-old problem: How to smuggle a mountaintop experience back into our humdrum lives.
Like many such weekends, Cursillo didn't give us the answers; just the tools we would need to craft one ourselves.
We needed to give ourselves a SPA treatment -- equal measures of Study, Piety and Action -- if we wanted to breathe new life into our faith journeys; life that might begin to recharge our churches.
It sounded easy at first.
-- Study the Bible every day and reflect on its meaning. Only in this way can you learn to recognize God's voice in your life.
-- Pray every day. This is how you bring your will in line with God's, because when you end a prayer "in Jesus' name" it's pretty hard to pray about your own selfish wants and desires.
-- Act on your faith. Jesus said our hearts will be known by how we treat "the least of these" during our tenure on earth.
The organizers of the retreat knew long before we did that we'd never be able to do this on our own. For that reason, we were encouraged to develop support groups of other "cursillistas" to hold each other accountable.
At each meeting, we would go around the table and recount what we had learned through our studies, where we had seen God acting in our lives, how we had used our prayers, what action we had taken.
Our engines of faith sputtered at first, but those who stuck with it were soon rewarded with a steady sense of God's presence.
Even more daunting was the task of bringing a radical faith in the power of Jesus back to churches that were quite content with the status quo.
Our songs were not in the hymn book. Our hands were in the air and, like Moses, when they started to sag, the battle turned against us.
The question was: Which way do we go?
Some wanted to give in, join the crowd, be accepted again. Others wanted to be recharged with another "spiritual retreat." Still others found the idea of a "spiritual retreat" something of an oxymoron. Hadn't we been told in Scripture to go and make disciples of all nations?
As it turns out, under God's rules, the act of charging ahead can serve the same purpose as a "retreat." When we carry His banner into the fray, we are strengthened by His mighty hand and our faith is renewed by the visible signs of His intercession.
Or, as we often hear these days, "The best defense is a good offense."
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