Rooted and Grounded in Love: Making an Investment You Won't Regret

Over the last 30 plus years, I have attended hundreds of Christian conferences and retreats of varying kinds.  Discipleship conferences, worship conferences, denominational gatherings, Promise Keeper conferences, healing meetings, prayer meetings, youth retreats, marriage retreats, pastor’s retreats, along with training seminars of all different types.  However, out of all of them, there has only been one retreat experience that has consistently been worth the investment, a guided prayer retreat that is facilitated by keeping silent and listening to God.  Since 1984 I have participated in, or led, approximately fifty prayer retreats like this. Each time I heard God’s voice, experienced His love, received new direction for living, and was renewed spiritually.  Since 1984 I have recommended that people make a Doorway to Discovery retreat a part of their yearly walk with Jesus. It is without question one of the most important disciplines I practice two times every year. 

This year’s spring retreat has as its focus being “rooted and grounded” in God’s love.  It comes from Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus when he prays they might be “rooted and grounded in love” in order that they might “comprehend… and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17-19).  It is the blending of two metaphors that highlight our need to be “rooted”, drawing our life from a fresh experience of God’s love.  And being “grounded,” building our lives upon the foundation of God’s agape love.  Our experience of the Christian life depends on our ability to live out these two foundational truths. 

As I have encouraged people to consider making a retreat of this nature, most have objected by saying, “I could never go that long without talking.”  Others look back at me with eyes that say “why would I want to do that?”  To the first objection, I tell them keeping the silence isn’t anywhere near as difficult or awkward as it sounds.  Once into the retreat if feels quite natural and even the most extroverted of people find they enjoy the solitude, the unhindered alone time with God.  For most, it is something they have never experienced before in life.  As to the “why would I want to do that” question, I would offer the following for your consideration. 

Hearing God’s Voice

One of the great privileges of being a follower of Jesus Christ is that He promises to guide us through life if we will let Him.  In John 16:13 Jesus says the Holy Spirit who has been given to indwell us “will speak to us what He hears and what is to come.”  The pre-existent God, who knows all things, the beginning and the end, has promised to lead us through life.  It is an incredible promise that many followers of Christ never learn to trust.  Yet the foolishness of ignoring this gift is like finding yourself lost in a strange city, filled with dead-end streets and big city dangers and not using your car’s GPS system to lead you to safety.

Each retreat we spend many hours over a three-day period asking God to give us spiritual ears to hear and spiritual eyes to see.  By the end of the weekend most are hearing without difficulty as God speaks uniquely to them about the circumstances of their lives.  Once they have had the experience on retreat it is much easier to hear once back in the midst of their daily routine.

Knowing Him Better

Each of us has a mental image of God and believe certain things to be true about Him.  Some of what we believe is accurate, though incomplete, while other things we hold to be true about God are simply incorrect. These incomplete, or sometimes incorrect, understandings cause us to make poor choices and hinder our ability to walk in faith.  In addition, the devil has used these false beliefs to create fear and anxiety in our lives, part of His plan to rob, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10)

Because each of the guided meditations for the retreat is based on Scripture, the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to ground us in truth while He works transformation in our hearts.  We consider the many attributes of God, like His love, mercy, and compassion which replace the mental image of a stern, heavenly taskmaster that many grew up believing in.  It was A. W. Tozer who said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  It is essential that we think rightly about God, and after every retreat weekend we leave with a fuller, more accurate understanding of what God is like.

Experiencing God’s Love

For most church people the fact that God loves them is an idea.  It is a truth they have heard so many times they can even quote a Bible verse or two.  But that is all that it is, an idea, a truth, a doctrinal statement that is lodged in their minds as information.  But when they are sick their first response is not to turn to Jesus who loves them.  When they are facing a decision, and don’t know what to do, they don’t ask the God who loves them and promises to give wisdom to all people generously.  In short, when life happens they do not have an abiding sense of God’s peace and the certain knowledge that God is going to help them.  Maybe you can relate to one of these?  Your mind knows the truth, that God loves you and He will never leave or forsake you.  But your heart is telling you something else, like you are in real trouble here and its up to you to fix it.

Romans 5:5-8 reminds us that God’s love is not just an idea to be understood but a substantive truth that is to be experienced, on a daily basis.  It is a supernatural experience orchestrated by the Holy Spirit as we contemplate the ultimate expression of agape love, Jesus’ death on the cross.  While on retreat we have extended periods of time to meditate on the cross and receive the love of Jesus.  In so doing we move from understanding we are forgiven, accepted and belong to actually “knowing” in our hearts.  The result is being able to live with God’s peace, hope and confidence regardless of our circumstances.

Discerning God’s Plan

There are two universal questions that every human being wants to be answered.  Who am I?  Why am I here?  Whether a committed follower of Christ or a pre-Christian, everyone wants to know they have worth and value apart from what they do but they also desire to live for an eternal purpose, for something that goes beyond having wealth and position.

The answers to those questions go way deeper than should I be an accountant or a plumber?  An airline pilot, pastor or brain surgeon?  Worthy occupations all but only properly understood and fulfilled from a life filled with love, faith, humility and a servant’s heart.  There are universal callings, shared by every son and daughter of the King, that provide the foundation for our unique vocation.  On retreat, God shows us how we can grow in faith and character as we represent Him and His kingdom in the world we live in.  We leave the retreat with a renewed sense of our true identity and eternal purpose.

It is unfortunate that we live in a world where the words “life-changing” and “transformational” are often attributed to lesser experiences like losing a few pounds, buying a new car or going on a dream vacation.  For then we often grow jaded to all the testimonials making such promises   It is because of these experiences we knowing intuitive that their claims to a changed life will never come close to what we are hearing.  I can assure this invitation is different, not because I can guarantee a mountaintop experience that will instantly transform your life.  But because God has promised “everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it shall be opened to him” (Matthew 7:8)

Have you ever prayerfully considered making a retreat like the one I just described?  God is waiting to meet with you in order that you might be “rooted and grounded” in His love.  Our next Doorway to Discovery retreat is March 15-18, 2018 and you can register on our website at godslivingstones.org.  I hope it works for you to join us.