Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion October 19, 2016


I have come to a retreat.  To a wonderfully beautiful place in the mountains of North Carolina.  This adventure is called a retreat, but in actuality it is continuing education conference.  You know, that necessary thing we have to do in our lives so that we keep abreast of and connected to and informed about all that ‘stuff’ that we need to know in order to continue our ministry.  
I guess that you can combine the two things together - retreat and continuing eduction.  I guess the two things can co-exist…..  Retreat sounds to me like rest and relaxation; sitting out in the warm sunshine in the gentle breeze under the colorfully changing trees by the sparkling lake just taking in the fresh air and not thinking about anything or anyone or ‘stuff’ that needs to be done.  Continuing education is sitting in a class listening to someone expound information that you hope you can assimilate into your thinking and your particular situation and then be of benefit to the people you serve through the use of all that information the has been poured out and hopefully you have retained.  The two don't sound very similar!
The problem with continuing education is that you come to a beautiful place like this and then you are expected to rise early in the morning in time to get breakfast and shuffle off sleepily to worship where you sit for 45 minutes and then you get up and shuffle to the classroom - making sure that the path you take to the classroom includes a pass by the little girls room and a pass by the coffee (which makes the first stop a necessity not soon afterward).  You and your coffee then make it to the classroom where you sit down and settle yourself in for what you know will be a couple hours of information overload.  
Now before this sounds like an excruciating experience, it may be a tad bit painful in the tiredness and stiffness category, but it is a good thing to hear and learn all this information and to talk to others about how things are going in their places of worship and to hear new an exiting ways things are getting accomplished in different places and to take a moment to brag about how well your church is doing.  I truly do like to learn and new ideas or re-informed old ideas are never wasted.
I think I just wish that the continuing education were not in a room with windows and skylights so that I can see the sunshine and the changing colors of the trees and the gentle breeze knowing that just down the steps from the room in which I am sitting sits a lake with benches where I could actually be sitting enjoying some retreating…… Or even better yet sitting on the porch of the coffee shop which overlooks the falls and listening to the sound of the water as I sort of check out and just allow the breeze and the sun and the sounds refresh the brain and the body and the spirit….
You spend the morning in class and then you meander to lunch where you eat quickly so that you can spend at least a few minutes outside in the warm sun and the gentle breeze under the canopy of colorfully changing leaves while getting a glance at the lake that is calling your name ever so subtly and you are tempted - very tempted - to cut out on that afternoon continuing education lecture because surely I can justify not being where I am suppose to be because of the lure of nature….. nature is a good thing right?  There is nothing wrong with nature.  God made nature so surely there would be nothing wrong with spending time in the natural world of the warm sun and the gentle breeze and the canopy of leaves and the gentle reflection of the lake.  Right?   Except I know where I am suppose to be and even though the temptation to ‘cut out’ is strong - I go to the class where I know I am suppose to be with my cup of very strong coffee in hand because I know that an afternoon class is going to be very difficult to remain focused - especially when there are all those windows…….
And of course I do the right thing because that is who I am and of course I learn a lot and get some great insight and some great ideas and get my successes reinforced and come to recognize some deficiencies - all those things that continuing education is suppose to do.  Of course it was the right thing to do and I achieved my purpose for being here (although there are 3 more of those long sessions left to go........).  
Part of me is glad that I resisted the temptation to skip out on what I was suppose to be doing (and part of me is a little sad that I missed out on the moments to actually retreat) but I went with the greater good and that will benefit me and those I work with a lot longer and I am sure there will be more nice warm days with gentle breezes and displays of leaves in color and glistening lakes…
We are tempted to do the same things with God.  We are tempted to skip the things of God when something which appears to be more appealing comes along; or something which seems to be more fun; or something that mimics the warmth of a sun and the gentleness of a breeze; something we think we need more than God….. But what we find is that when we neglect the things of God and push them aside for what looks like a better option, we eventually lose out in the long run.  When we choose the things of God, which we know we are suppose to, then everything else seems to fall into place and we find ourselves going in the direction God leads us and doing the things God calls us to do and that is when we truly find the peace and meaning in our lives.
Tempting breezes and warmth and beauty are all around us - but is God who is everlasting!


These devotions began in 2006 as a way to give us a midweek boost as we live out our lives as the people of God!  Feel free to share them if you wish.