Before I jump into my topic this week, I want to extend a huge thank you to the lay servant members of Central UMC in Point Pleasant Beach (Katie, Tempe, Carole, and Cindy) for covering preaching duties while I was on renewal leave. Also big thanks to Rev. Fran Noll for presiding over communion on the first Sunday of the month, and to Revs. Hyun Bo Shim and Kee Yang for covering in case of pastoral emergencies. I was more than comfortable that Central and its ministries were in good hands while I was out of town (coincidentally, in a town named Central, South Carolina).
I was away for the majority of the month of August on a renewal leave. Easily the best and most productive part of that time was the six days and nights that I spent at The Potter’s Place in South Carolina. The Potter’s Place is a non-profit ministry that provides a place for pastors to rest and renew from the rigors of full-time ministry. You can learn more about who they are and what they offer at http://tppministry.org/ and take note of the sitting area in my accommodations in the picture above. In short, The Potter’s Place is a secluded place of solitude where one can rediscover their relationship with God in Jesus Christ. And that is exactly what it was for me. I am so thankful to Don and Shannon, the resident caretakers of the property, and all of the trustees that have built and maintained this beautiful place for pastors. I’m thankful to God for leading me to discovering this place. And I’m thankful to my church and my denomination for providing the time for me to experience this.
Here’s the key learning from my time away: solitude is important… much more important than you think it is. We all know just how busy we are. There are schedules to keep, kids to run hither and yon to practices and school and events, meetings to make, people to visit, etc. We’ve all got it, and we’ve all got to un-get it. And that’s really what I’m talking about today, not just slowing down or being less busy, but finding time away from everything, and I mean everything – work, phone, television, other people, for an hour or two. I cannot begin to describe the spiritual benefit of finding a place or space and the time to just be alone with God. Whether it’s nature or your home, there is a huge benefit to reconnecting with God and Christ on a regular basis. I have to believe that if we’re not doing this, then we don’t really care about our relationship with God.
I mean, if you have a friend and once a week you talk about your friend and you hear other people talk about your friend, but you never spend time with that friend… are you really friends? Do you really have a relationship? So, let me encourage you this week – carve out a place and a time in your week or your day. Go to your place with your Bible or a spiritual devotional book and just spend some time with God. Listen. Pray. Be.
Trust me, it’s gonna be good for your soul.