The Only True Retreat
In the still and quiet of the inky blackness where I had sought my retreat, I sat with my eyes closed and strained to listen to the sounds of what lay beyond me. I could not face it, the dread that once again threatened me. I had entered into my prayer closet to search and find the peace I desperately needed.
It was a faint echo at first, and I could hardly distinguish it from the other sounds and distractions. It echoed from a distance as it attempted to blend in with the day-to-day noise, hoping to catch me off guard. It was searching for me. I knew it, just as surely as I knew that it would not stop until it overtook and devoured me. I held my breath. Would it find me? I was trying so hard not to let it win this time. It seemed, as of late, that this proved a more and more difficult challenge.
Scritch, scritch, scritch. There it was! The reverberation was closer now, an ever increasing scratching on the other side of the door. It was so close, just a few feet away. I could tell it was aggravated and remained persistent. It would not stop until it oppressed me – until it took control of my mind. “No,” I whispered. “You will not have me today. You will be the one overpowered!”
My hands began to tremble. I could feel the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand on end; beads of perspiration appeared on my brow. It was so close; closer than it had been just moments ago. Somehow it had managed to penetrate into the darkness that encircled me. It had found me, but did I have the strength to defend myself this time?
“Oh God!” I cried out my prayer in anguish to Him. “Help me overcome this dread and fear! I can’t take it anymore. I am too weak!” Tears spilled down my cheeks, and I was emotionally exhausted and spent. I wondered when I would have the resilience to face my fears, if that were at all even possible.
Wiping away the tears, I reached for the flashlight that assisted my ability to read here in the closet. Familiar shadows danced beyond the edge of the beam as the light came to life. Thankfully, the illumination would help keep this monster at bay, though only momentarily. I knew what was required in this situation. I needed to search God’s Word, for that is where to find the essential answers to any given situation. I opened directly to the Psalms, feeling the Lord guide me to what I needed to hear; to what would help me win this battle. I held the flashlight close to the Book, the words beckoning to be read. They seemed to radiate out into the dimness, bringing forth light. God’s words are a strong illumination, a guiding beacon.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1-2, NSAB)
God was gently reminding me to seek Him when I am afraid. Only He can help me stand firm against all my fears; I can not do it on my own. In order for fear not to be the ruler of my life, I must stay focused on Him. Then, and only then, will my fears dissipate and I will find my retreat - the peace I so eagerly long for.
Our retreat, our refuge, is neither found in some distant land nor high on a mountain peak. It is not in a cabin run in secluded woods or even in one’s prayer closet. Our retreat is found in the Lord Jesus Christ! With Him in our lives, there is no need for any other type of haven; for those others are mere temporal places that will one day be destroyed. Jesus will never be destroyed! He is the only real haven that we can truly count on! It is only in Him that we will find our true retreat – the peace that comes in knowing and trusting Him.
“…so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB)