“Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me, on the top of the mountain…” – Exodus 34:2
Looking back over the past few days, leading the pastors’ retreat together (see “Times of Refreshing,” and “Rest, Reconciliation, and Restoration on Emerald Isle“) turned out to be the perfect way to start our summer vacation. It was a transition point, where we continued in the “working, leading, teaching, preaching” vein… but also overlapping with vacation by doing all those work things on a barrier island, far away from the routine.
The retreat effectively launched our vacation in an intentionally spiritual context. The first days were about encouraging others in their journey as followers of Jesus, and so we arrived here on the ocean side of Emerald Isle (just four miles from the retreat center), already “resting” in exactly the way I talked about it in Session One.
“We’re not talking about rest in terms of resting from our work, our responsibilities, our troubles, or our exertions,” I said; “but in terms of resting in our relationship with God.”
In that context, I shared one of my favorite illustrations, about the morning I made the trek up Mount Sinai to see the sun rise from the summit (the full story is in the introduction to Pilgrim in Progress). The scripture still makes me smile: God said to Moses, “So be ready in the morning and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to me there on top of the mountain” (Exodus 34:2).
So for Rebekah and for me, this vacation has started in the context of presenting ourselves to God on top of the mountain. Now, with that approach – that trajectory – established, we really are going to rest, to rest in the best way imaginable.
Today we’ll be resting in God at the beach; we’ll be watching the waves crash onto the shore, understanding that the Holy can crash into our lives in the same way, aware that eternity laps up against time, knowing that what is unseen is just as real as what we can see, and resting in the knowledge that we are spiritual beings in this material world….