STORY: Glory Retreat
When you are in tune with God through prayer and meditation you can experience peace at a whole new depth. I like to take retreats with God—apart from life and away from others. If I don’t do this, sometimes the busyness (in activity and in whirling brainstorms) crowds out and covers up the still small voice of God. By unplugging from the distractions, God has my full attention. I come to Him, seeking guidance, wisdom, and direction. I ask for discernment, the ability to balance my various roles, and confess all the ways I’ve gotten it wrong.
A few years ago I spoke for a women’s retreat and asked if I could stay at the cottage a couple of extra days if I brought my own food. It was the best arrangement I could have asked for, in a beautiful setting on a lake in Wisconsin, at the beginning of autumn. Rather than staying holed up in the cottage to talk to God, I decided I’d rather walk with God. Literally walk. These nature hikes filled me with the most glorious moments. Through the quiet and the scenic landscape, I heard God’s voice in my heart. I called these my “walks with Andy.” Why? There’s a story of a little girl who thought God’s name was Andy because of the lyrics from “In the Garden” that say, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
I went to the retreat with a list of questions to ask God, to seek His direction. As I prayed, I wrote in my notebook any thoughts that came to me during the meditation time. He very clearly told me to put the questions aside and simply enjoy His presence, focus on Who He is, and I’d be so close to His heartbeat I’d know the answers to the questions. So I listened to amazing music, walked in His nature, journaled praise and worship, and guess what? Every question on my list received tailor-made answers, customized for my situation.
Part of each Andy walk included taking photographs of God’s creation. The camera captured glorious images I didn’t even see with my human eyes. As I viewed the pictures later, it extended my worship beyond the actual time of the walk. The sunbeams of blinding light in some of the photos reminded me of His power and glory, and the glistening light reflecting off the ripples in the water revealed light in such a peaceful way, giving me hope. Reassured, I was equipped to enter life again, ready to go with the tools to pursue what God had for me. Little did I know the next two years would be fraught with medical struggles which complicated my business and ministry goals in such a way that all I could do was trust God for the outcome. The discipline of silence prepared me for the loudness of life as I returned home.
STUDY: Glory Revealed
Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. (Psalm 111:3 NLT)
- There are two all-inclusive words used in this verse. We usually tell people to avoid these words in relationship discussions, but here they are. Can you identify the two words?
- Why is it important to know that everything God does results in glory and majesty revealed?
- Why is it important to know God’s righteousness never fails?
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:5 NLT)
- There will be no one who misses seeing God’s glory.
- What do you imagine in your mind’s eye when you think of God’s glory?
This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11 NLT)
- Can you imagine living at the time of Jesus and seeing Him as merely human and then blammo—He reveals His glory! How do you think that impacted the wedding party?
- The verse says His disciples believe in Him. Do you think sometimes it takes seeing glory to believe? When was that moment in your own life?
We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. (Titus 2:12b-13 NLT)
- How are we to live while we wait for God?
- What are we to look forward to?
- How does hope bridge the awfulness of today with the glory of someday?
STEPS: Glory on Foot
- Be on the lookout. Police issue BOLO requests when they look for a person of interest. We can be just as alert to discover good news around us. Keep track of good news and pay less attention to bad news. See for yourself what that does for your hope of someday’s glory.
- Share good news. Once you discover good news, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with others. The process of sharing good news multiplies hope.
- Create good news. Sometimes when it seems like everything is grim around us, it’s up to us to create good news. Be the good news someone else seeks, and see how glory shows up in the midst of it.
- Keep Good News in Proper Focus. All good gifts come from God, so be sure it’s obvious to others that God is at work in all you do to reveal His glory. Others don’t always need to hear a sermon, but they need to see a Savior.
Copyright © 2016 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.