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, for your servant is listening."
1 Samuel 3:9
I need it; you need it; we all need it! Yearly refreshings - taking an honest inventory of your life and receiving your life's true purpose and direction from El Shaddai, the All-sufficient One. God in His great wisdom knows that we need yearly refreshings, lest we plateau and pacify ourselves with mere religiosity and churchiness. He knows we DRIFT! We all do, terribly and tragically! The stress of life, worldly care, and our endless busyness crowd out God. You can add to that an anxious life, worldliness that creeps in, as well as a chasing of low priorities. This consumes almost all of us and keeps us from being in tune with the daily deliverance God offers and our journey of Oneness with Him. I recommend refreshings to absolutely everyone-yearly refreshings. They don't have to be ten days like Sally and I just took in May. You could try three days, five days, or even seven days. Just individualize it to yourself and your honest needs!
Sally and I entered Quetico Provincial Park in Canada on Sunday, May 20, 2018, and started paddling to what we fondly call '
' It's a remote island, less than one acre in size, in the middle of a canoe wilderness where nothing can disturb you. They claim there are
, in conjunction with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota, as many as 10,000 lakes.
A dear friend of mine, Barry, and I discovered this place seven years ago. With the help of my son Matthew and his friend Craig, we developed it into a beautiful site with a deluxe fire pit for cooking and evening fires, log benches, rock tables, and a couple of tent sites. Thank you, Barry, Matthew, and Craig. Its location, for those of you that want to duplicate this experience, is somewhere east of Sunset and somewhere west of Dawn.
Yes, you need to find your own.
It has ultimate quiet, lapping water on the shoreline, with loons, eagles, geese, and seagulls to visit us in our place of solitude, sort of like Elijah had with the raven that visited him daily. For us it is the ultimate place to be still and know that He is our God. (
) Here, in these ten days, His plans for our immediate life are laid open. Quiet is the think tank of the soul. It opens God's frequency to our conscience. God speaks loudest when we are the quietest. Just ask the great prophet, Elijah. God revealed himself to Elijah, not in a strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice. (
1 Kings 19:11,12
) Why? Because God often speaks loudest when we are in periods of intensified silence, accompanied by His written word.
Day one: Our minds are busied with all the cares of life and ministry. Our bodies want to crash, but they somehow know that all the trappings of life can't get at us out here. We are insulated from it all. We unplug, to plug in to our God. We have no cellular phone, emails, texts,
or drop-ins to interrupt us; no news to bombard us or fake news to waste our time; no daily responsibilities, duties, artificial pleasures, or amusements to occupy us-just God and His nature, enlisted as agents of refreshing, revival, and renewal.
It could perhaps be said that the sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quiet in God's presence. If you don't silence those competing voices, they'll eventually deafen and conquer you. Here, God's voice becomes the loudest voice in your life. Amen! Is God's voice the loudest voice in your life? It can be, but you must make it happen. Here, our every thought is, "Speak,
, for your servant is listening."
1 Samuel 3:9
Now my head begins to clear, and my pulse slows down. I relax, rest, and tune out the intruders, then take in the beauty. Lord, have I really let 'It' get me that much? Apparently so! But how could it? I even preach on 'A Focused Life' and on 'Slow Down Christian.'
We all wander, stray, and meander. Life, work, and duties have a way of overtaking us. It varies for different individuals, but the need is the same. "And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'" Mark 6:31
God is calling you! I know He is! Will you respond? I hope so. No, it probably won't be on a remote island in the middle of a canoe wilderness called Quetico. But God has a place for you; you can count on it. Use your imagination; and make sure you add in lots of prayer. Perhaps it's a camper or tent parked on yours or someone else's property. Maybe it's a cottage or timeshare somewhere. It could be a National Forest or State Park. Just let God whisper in your ear-when and where. All He wants to know is, "Are you willing to enter in?" Refreshings are invaluable. They're needed by everyone. They are God ordained. Why? Because we've all been deafened by the voice of conformity. Be honest now-are you?
Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear His gentle whispers to your conscience and your willingness to follow His leadings. One divine direction is worth more than 1000 of your 'I thinks.' One of God's ideas is more valuable than 10,000 of man's conceptions. That's why we go to the wilderness and '
' for God's still small voice-guided by His word!
Three Days Later
After two or three days, your mind and body settle down. My pulse went down to sixty, and all the busyness in my head emptied. Now God has His opportunity to get in, in a way that your normal life keeps Him at bay. No wonder we are normally perplexed with so much frivolousness and vanity.
When you take your cues from the God of heaven, you will do some things that will make other people think you're crazy. So be it. Obey the whispers and see what God does. For example:
New Beginnings Ranch
They wanted me to be the keynote speaker at a retreat for the International Rescue and Relief students. They had come to the New Beginnings Ranch in southwestern Colorado for a month-long training session and I was invited for the spiritual focus. The leaders had turned over all the students, approximately forty young men and women between the ages of eighteen and thirty, for me to conduct morning and evening worship. In addition, they had said I would have one complete day in which I was solely responsible for all their activities. At the evening camp fire, my last instruction to the students was that I wanted them all to sleep in, then meet at 9:30 a.m. the next morning by the fire ring. The leadership was baffled. They had invited me, not to let them sleep in, but to stimulate them to a higher walk with God.
As we all gathered around the fire ring at 9:30 a.m. the next morning, I unleashed my plans for the day. They were all to go out into the surrounding wilderness, away from all sight and sound of anybody, taking only their Bibles and
, and there they were to ask only one question of God: "Lord, what would thou have me to do." Acts 9:6 Then they were to return at 6:30 p.m. and share with the group God's answer to that all-important question for their lives.
Do you know why I wanted them to sleep in until 9:30 a.m.? I did not want them sleeping when they were supposed to be listening. I wanted them awake, alert, and tuned into God and God alone.
What a testimony service ensued. One of the assistant leaders stood and apologized to the main leader for undermining his authority. Wow, did that ever open the Spirit! Another student stood and shared how he felt God was asking him to become a chaplain in the Army-to return to Afghanistan and share what he had been learning in these meetings. He had never had much to do with religion, because to him it was so empty. Now, he felt he had received such a blessing and so many insights into walking with God that he would return to the battlefield and touch other lives. These testimonies went on for a good one and a half hours. There were tears shed, hopes ignited, and enlightened youth that had been touched by the God of the universe-all in one day's time. Just think what God could reveal to you in three days, five days, or a week. If you think you have been waiting on God, you are wrong-God is actually waiting on you! Please honestly think that over for a moment.
Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear God's gentle whispers to your conscience. Perhaps the sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quiet long enough for God to touch his soul. If you want to hear the heart of God, silence is key. So quit hiding from God in your overactivity, your Boy Scout and Girl Scout deeds, your church positions, and your mere mental assent to biblical information, and let God be in charge of your every thought, word, and action. Don't we owe Him that opportunity?
Take your Bible, a notepad, and perhaps a very special book that God wants to use in your case, and let God layout for you His direction and purpose. Perhaps it will be an escape plan for your life. He has one, you know-specifically and uniquely designed for you, your circumstances, and your needs. Be sure to leave all those electronic intruders at home. In other words, you unplug, to plug in to the Source. You don't want to interrupt or slow down God's prescription for your life, your marriage, your family, your character, or your future. Let Him in, so He can get 'you' (sinful self) out. Be brave and take down the prescription. He will deliver you from your bondage, and give purpose, direction, and true meaning for your life-guaranteed!
Eight Pages of Notes
In my ten days of refreshing, I had literally taken eight pages of notes for my next year of a God-directed life. Wouldn't you just love to read those eight pages of notes? Perhaps I can share just a few things in an abbreviated format. The more sensitive and detailed ones I will keep between myself and God.
- Seek the foundation vs. the summit of your walk
- I allowed the school of discipline for a purpose
- Put away all murmuring and complaining
- Your message is to be mirrored by your life
- To practice what you write will present the greatest challenge of your life
- Hide yourself in Me-Psalms 91
- Negative words suffocate God's presence
- Be a voice calling My people higher
- Don't be concerned about what is next until you fulfill what is now
- There's a big difference between love for people and lust for numbers and reputation
- Seek out the one, and let Me oversee the ninety and nine
- Never seek the honor of men if you desire the mind of Christ
- Meekness and humility are the sum total of a mature man
- Time to go deeper
- Desire only to please your Father
- Look not to the ideas and strategies of other men
- It's My love in you that people are drawn to
- You are to be My ambassador
- You are to be free of extraneous concerns and trivial worries; they are a vast sea of nothingness
- Love and care for the needs of My people
- Work only with the ones I send to you
- The desire for obedience should be preferred over hearing My voice and receiving My counsel
- To hear Me and obey Me is the secret to all My power
- If men would humble themselves and bow their wills to My Life and My mind in them, according to My word, they would come out of the muddy waters of religion and be one in Me-John 17
- The culture of religion desires you to come under it vs. coming under God and God alone
- Trials remove impurities and produce patience and character in me
- Religion is quite acceptable to people; coming under God is appalling and quite distasteful. They want to remain in charge; coming under God leaves them no wiggle room
- Write out what I have whispered, and put it in a new book entitled, 'Escaping Back to God.'
Well, there you have it. It's not complicated at all. Will you taste and see that the Lord is your God? Will you let it settle in on you? Will you see that it really is easy? If you do, you will see your load lightened. Just let His gentle touch direct you. Go ahead, wade out into these refreshing waters by faith. Let Him speak into your ear and give you the eye of an eagle for your life. He will make everything simple and plain. Go ahead and be refreshed in Him.
Questions for Discussion
What is your real life's purpose, are you fulfilling it?
- Have you ever truly taken an honest inventory of your life?
- Are you stalling at the thought of unplugging?
- Are you afraid of what God will show you?
- How many excuses are you batting around in your head right now?
- Do you think you will be bored?
- Does the impossibility of the location stall you?
- Do you think this does not apply to you?
- What are you waiting for?
- Are you afraid of the quiet?
- How long are you going to remain man-managed versus God-governed?