Running Away on Purpose

“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”Mark 12:29-30 NIV

I wake up with the usual battle raging in my head every time it’s my day to “run away.” My practical side points out all the important things waiting to be done and whispers that a responsible person gets her work done before she takes a day off. My heart side reminds me that the most important thing of all is actually a Person—and I’ve committed to meet with Him today. The phone rings, and yet another responsibility threatens to pull me back into the ebb and flow of daily living. The pile of bills stabs at my mind. The ever-overflowing hamper shakes its head at me, “Doesn’t your family deserve clean clothes?”

For almost a decade now, I’ve been spending one day alone with God each month, and I’m still bombarded … every single month on that appointed day … with mental pictures of all the responsibilities I’m walking away from. Crazy. It’s always hard to leave. Always “too much to do.” I can’t afford a precious running-away day. The temptation to finish work first is strong. It takes courage to pick up my Sweet Selah Day bag and walk myself out of the house and into the car—but I do it.

The worship CD I chose the night before is waiting for me as I start the car and head out. As the music begins, my heart starts to sing. “You did it,” it laughs! “You chose time with God over all that stuff at home. Wahooo!” The fact that chores await me seems less urgent once I’m on my way. I stop and pick up my favorite chai drink from Aroma Joe’s and speak out loud to my King, “Forgive me, Lord. It’s still hard to leave … and yet … I want to be with You, and I know this is Your will for me. Bless this day, Father, with Your Presence and Your words. I give it to You, and I give myself to You. Use me as You choose, teach me as You please, and help me to set aside all else for the pure joy of being ‘just us’ today!”

And then I sing out loud in the car. And I do mean loud. Sometimes I literally weep for the joy of being free from the normal routines and on an adventure with the Lover of my Soul—the Shepherd who wants His lamb close to His heart. With each mile and each song, the tensions from the week seep away. The belief that this time is more important than all else reasserts itself. I’m running away for a day with the One who loves me most and life is very, very good.

The drive to the ocean is about 45 minutes, just about the length of an average worship CD. I love music. So often it’s reduced to pretty background noise, but when I’m on a Sweet Selah Day, every word is heard, every harmony enjoyed. The drive is part of the time spent with the Lord. It’s musical prayer. It’s heart readjustment. It’s surrender and reminder and victory depending on the song. The worship sets the tone for the day and it’s Just. So. Nice. To sing and focus on God.

What I do when I arrive at the ocean varies. I might sit in my favorite little café and order a pot of tea and toast with homemade marmalade. If I choose to linger in a café that day, my Bible comes out and I study. Or, perhaps I read another chapter in A. W. Tozer’s, The Knowledge of the Holy, my current Sweet Selah Day book. I underline. I journal. I sit. I wait for God to still my soul.

When the weather allows, I walk a path beside the ocean, admiring waves crashing on rocks and seagulls arched in the sky way overhead. In early summer, beach roses scent the path, and autumn leaves color it beautifully in fall. There are benches along the way. I sit. I admire. I listen. God stills my soul and we are together, He and I, in the midst of His creation. It’s a day with a simple agenda: Be with God. Love and be loved. The renewal and the resetting of priorities that transpire each time I “stop,” recalibrate my heart. I love these special days.

WHY IT’S HARD TO RUN AWAY AND WHY YOU SHOULD

Our world tells us that being busy is synonymous with being important and needed. Stopping can feel lazy and negligent, especially when the accuser, Satan, whispers those words to us.

Truth: The enemy of your soul would love to keep you so busy doing “good things” that you never do the best thing: spend actual time with your King. Peter warns us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). We have an active enemy, and the last thing he wants us to do is the most important thing.

It is neither lazy nor negligent to spend time with God. Of course, we show God we love Him every day in the way we obey His Word, in the way we love others, in our whispered prayers throughout the day. Ponder with me, though. How do you show others you really, deeply love them? You listen to them. You spend time with them. You admire what they’ve done. You get to know them. A day alone with a beloved friend or spouse is a joy. It’s a declaration of their importance. Jesus said loving God is the most important command. Far from being negligent or lazy, spending quality time with God is obedience to the first and greatest commandment! It’s showing your love for your Beloved in a concrete, beautiful sacrifice of time. “Stopping” is a good thing.

We often don’t feel “worth” it. Spend time and money and go out to a café on my own and just read and walk for a day? I don’t deserve a day like that.

Truth: God loves you. Hear these words from His Word and let them sink deep into your soul. If you belong to Christ, this prayer from the apostle Paul is for you—you’re not an exception here. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV). His love for you is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than you can ever know. It surpasses knowledge. He. Loves. You. Delight in that and honor the Lover of your Soul with a day set apart just for Him.

The thought of time alone with God can feel pretty frightening, especially without a specific agenda. What on earth would I do? What if it’s boring? What if there are no inspiring words from God … only silence and a frequent looking at the watch to see if the day is done?

Truth: When I first started this practice of a Sweet Selah Day, I was bored. I did look at my watch. Stopping for a long period of time was so foreign to me I didn’t know how. It took time and practice for this day to become a familiar joy. Now, I love my day away and find it too short. But that took time. Even now, I don’t always walk away with profound truths, new and brilliant insights, or spiritual revelations. Sometimes I just read my Bible, journal my thoughts, whisper “I love You,” and am content with that. I simply offer Him my day to use as He sees fit. I fill it with quiet and listening and availability. What God does with my offering is up to Him. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Just do that. Run away. Run to Him and see, over time, how He chooses to meet you there. You will be changed. Of that I’m sure.

Thank You, Father, that You want to spend time with Your children. Help us to know You better and better. Help us to love You who love us so well … more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Note: Want some ideas for your Sweet Selah Day? Click here and learn more.

This article was first published in the Spring 2018 edition of Just Between Us Magazine
with the title “Soul Getaway.” (Lightly edited for this Musing.) 

You are loved,
Sharon

 

 

Sweet Selah Ministries

Vision
To encourage a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth that stillness and knowing God matter most—
and will be reflected in more effective work and service

Mission 
To offer resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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2 Responses to “Running Away on Purpose”

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  1. Suzan Braun says:

    Sharon:
    Loved reading this on your blog as well as in JBU last year. You are modeling something we all need to do and I admit, I have not yet. So thanks for being our cheerleader and encouraging women to run away on purpose!

    • Sharon Gamble says:

      Oh it is so HARD to set aside time for a Sweet Selah Day. I understand. And you are welcome. And ... I hope you get to try a day sometime soon. They are soooo restorative. Love you and love JBU magazine, too!

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