Do You Hear the Alarm?

It is a wonderful feeling to go to bed at night and not have to set an alarm for tomorrow morning.  It doesn’t happen often at our house, but occasionally we release ourselves from the dreaded morning beep.  Alarm clocks are unusual things.  We program them to ring at a specific time, but often hit the snooze button to delay the inevitable again and again.

The alarm clock is not the only signal that we pay attention to.  We are surrounded by many different alarms.  There are alarms in our vehicles reminding us to buckle up.  We set alarms on our cell phones so we don’t forget important meetings.  Alarms at the checkout counter remind us to remove our credit card.  Alarms can be annoying, but they are also important.  They alert us to what is going on; they grab our attention.  In some instances it is sad that we have become so forgetful or oblivious to our surroundings that we need to have an alarm, but think of how many people would be late for work every day without one.

A fire alarm is another important signal.  Our facility is wired with a device that will sound a loud alarm and notify the local fire department if it detects smoke or extreme heat.  A technician from Midwest Alarm came to the church this week to service our alarm system and make sure it was working properly.  He performs numerous tests, checks the sensors, and replaces any failing parts, but before he signs off on the inspection, he must complete one final assessment.  He must sound the alarm.  Thankfully he does not do this without warning.  The technician came to the office and asked if there were other people in the building and how many sets of ear plugs we would need.  I declined the ear plugs, but his question got me thinking.

Are there other alarms in my life that have been going off, but rather than get too rattled by them or pay attention, have I used a set of ear plugs to make the signal less offensive?  Are there alarms in my life that I perpetually hit the snooze button on?  YES!  When I hear the tornado sirens at 1:00 on the first Wednesday of the month, I “put my ear plugs in” and keep right on working.  When I see the number rising on the scale, I “hit the snooze button” and scoop myself another bowl of ice cream.  When I realize my blood pressure is on the rise, I commit to start exercising… next month.  When I plan to get up early the next morning to spend time with Jesus, the spirit is willing but the flesh is week.

How about you?  Are there alarms that are sounding in your life?  Are you acting on them?  When the diagnosis comes, do you commit to drawing closer to God only to set the Bible aside when the treatments are done?  When a loved one dies, do you think about your own mortality during the funeral service but then whoop it up at the bar that night because you only live once?  When you hear a message about the 10 Commandments, do you think about what a good sermon that was rather than committing to make a change?  When the Holy Spirit convicts you, do you brush it off and seek approval somewhere else?

What about American Reformed Church, or the Church in general?  Are there alarms sounding that we would prefer to ignore or hit the snooze?  When good leaders are needed, do we ignore God’s call and prefer to let someone else do it?  When expectations aren’t met, do we lower the bar a bit more rather than confronting a problem?  When someone draws our attention to problems in our midst, do we chastise them for being too negative.

God gives us some good advice in the book of Revelations about heeding warnings.  To the seven churches, He says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  For more specifics, read Revelations 2 and 3.

May it not be said of God’s Church or God’s People that we ignored the alarms in our own souls, our families, and our Church.  Take out the ear plugs and stop hitting the snooze!  Do you hear the alarm?

Erin Jacobsma

 


Taken Advantage Of

If you’re old enough to read this, then it’s quite likely you know what it feels like when someone takes advantage of you. And of course the ways of being taken advantage of are endless. An employer may take advantage of his employees and employees may take advantage of their employer. A husband may take advantage of his wife, a wife may take advantage of her kids, and the kids may take advantage of their father and the list goes on and on.

Before I share how I feel like I was taken advantage recently, I was thinking, how does a person really know when someone takes advantage of them? Is it only a matter of having a boundary violated? Or is it when you do something nice for someone and they don’t appreciate it? Or is it doing something nice for someone and they expect you to keep doing the nice thing over and over and over?

Several years ago I met a couple from a neighboring community that stopped by church for some financial assistance and so we helped them. It wasn’t long and they stopped again…and again…and so I didn’t feel right about having the church help them so frequently. However, my heart was tender towards their struggle so I started helping them from time to time. And yes it developed into the kind of relationship that the only time they wanted to visit with me was when they need more money.

Well, last week when we were on vacation they texted me and asked if I could help them—they even went as far as asking me to wire some money to them. I explained to them that I was cruising along the shoreline of Lake Superior and that I was nowhere near a bank and that they would have to wait until I returned.

Much to my surprise, I soon received a text with several naughty words and some other not so nice names in it, concluded by, “I hope you rot in hell.” After reflecting on the text and getting present to my level of anxiety, I tried hard not to give it the wrong meaning which would’ve led to having wrong emotions which may have led to wrong actions on my part. And so I simply responded, “You are welcome to meet me at church on Tuesday, and after you apologize for being so rude to me, I will give you the money you are asking for.”

So they stopped by Tuesday and promptly asked for the money. I responded by saying. “You said some pretty hurtful things to me; I will give you the money after you apologize.” Well the wife finally offered the kind of apology a brother makes to his sister after dunking her doll in the toilet only because his mom made him apologize. And so I gave them what they asked for, and away they went. I’ll admit it, I felt taken advantage of. And if that wasn’t enough, I got a text two days later from the husband asking if I would make his car payment for this month.

Although I didn’t respond to the text, I thought, “Sorry buddy, I’m done being taken advantage of by you, I’m pretty sure the bridge has been burned for good!!!”

That’s when the Spirit spoke to me; “Mike, you have probably never told me to burn in hell, but can you think of a time when I blessed you and you wasted it and then asked for more blessing. Or does it ever seem like the only time you want to talk is when you want something from me? Do you ever take advantage of me?” BUSTED!

I was trying to think of a Bible verse to end with that would help guide me in the future when I feel taken advantage of, but I couldn’t think of one. So if you have one in mind, please e-mail me at mike@arcluverne.org.

Showered with grace, Mike Altena

 


15 Years of Marriage

REFLECTIONS ON 15 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

The other day I asked my wife, Lynn, if there was a certain moment when she knew she was in love with me.  She said, “No, not really.”  I was afraid to ask the next logical question, “Well…are you in love with me now?”  So I let the conversation fizzle out.  But we have been thinking a lot lately about such things as we are preparing to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary on August 3rd.  Actually, it probably won’t be much of a celebration on that day as we will be on vacation with our kids and all of Lynn’s extended family, and the only fine dining within the immediate vicinity will be Dairy Queen, but we will do our best!

We didn’t have a perfect courtship, and actually broke up for several months, but in the end I believe the struggles early on allowed us to be stronger later.  After dating for a few months I wasn’t sure my heart was in a serious relationship, and the urge was still there to be in a full-time touring band.  After we broke up around Easter, I got a call from Artesian, a Christian funk band in Florida, to join them on guitar and produce their debut album.

During that year Lynn’s family had a young African boy, named Larry, staying with them as he received medical treatment.  Late in the summer he got sick and passed away, around the time of the 9/11 attacks, and I remember thinking about Lynn and wondering how she was doing.  We began to converse again, and by the Fall I asked if she would take me back.  After her visit to Florida the following January, we knew we were meant to be together.  I returned to the Sioux Falls area on Valentine’s Day, we soon got engaged, and that summer 15 years ago we were married.

Though it is far from perfect, and there is plenty of room to improve, I have always believed we have a good marriage.  This week I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that might be true.  I think the first reason is because we strive to get our deepest fulfillment from God rather than each other.  Both of us experienced rapid spiritual growth as young adults, and as a result neither of us felt we HAD to get married to be a whole person.  On the other hand, another reason our marriage has been blessed is that we were raised to believe that divorce is almost never an option.  We can’t remember our parents saying that, exactly, but the fact remains that they lived it out day after day, and Lynn and I are fortunate not to have a single divorce among our grandparents, parents, or siblings.  The message we learned growing up was that if you choose to get married, you do everything you can to make it work.

I always go back to one of my favorite Sara Groves lyrics… “Let’s find out…the beauty of seeing things through.”  I can’t wait to see what the next 15 years will look like, and hopefully 15 more after that, Lord willing.  May the marriages at ARC all be a shining light to the world of how God’s love and grace can be manifested in our relationships day after day, year after year!

Cory Grimm

 


Reflections

During the month of June Vicki and I did a little remodeling project in our basement. In one of the rooms was the furnace, the water heater, the washer and dryer, a toilet and a long piece of counter top with a kitchen sink in it. We thought it would be nice to take out the long piece of counter top with the kitchen sink and replace it with a small vanity and a shower so that I could have my own space to get ready in the mornings, as well as having a nicer bathroom for guests and family.

The project all went very smoothly and soon I had my own bathroom to get ready in. However, when it came to picking out a mirror to put above the vanity, Vicki had a hard time finding one that fit the space between the outlet and the light above. I suggested that we get the kind of mirror with the medicine cabinet behind it and with the row of lights at the top. I found a nice one in a pawn shop in Sioux Falls, but she assured me that no one on HGTV ever uses them in a remodeling project.

I had been using the bathroom for a few days without having a mirror, but I soon discovered that shaving and making my hairdo look nice wasn’t going that well, I kindly asked her if she was having any luck finding a mirror. She responded by informing me she was going to Sioux Falls that day and she would look for one. I jokingly responded to her, “Well whatever you get, don’t buy the kind of mirror that shows that my hair is thinning, or that reflects that I’m looking older. And don’t get the mirror that shows that I’ve been gaining weight. If you can, find a mirror that makes me look good.”

Over the past several weeks we’ve been looking at the 10 Commandments and while John Calvin considered them as a “thankful guide for daily living,” Martin Luther saw the 10 Commandments as a “mirror which reflects our need for grace.” Either way, the challenge of looking in the mirror and seeing how far short we fall of the glory of God, is to repent.  Again, as I’ve shared before, at times it feels like my                 “want-to-er” is broke. I deceive myself into thinking my life is working just fine, and so I don’t give my word to obeying God’s commands.

I’m often like the person James writes about in James 2:22-24, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”

Well, Vicki finally found the mirror she was looking for, so now I can mow down all those pesky whiskers and do my hair real nice. And whether I like it or not, it reflects my receding hair line, the signs of aging, and that I’ve gained some weight. After it was finally hung, the mirror reminds me of how desperately I am in need of God’s grace in every area of my life.

May it not be so with those who are reading this article that we would resist being confronted with the ugly reality of our sinfulness and of our need for grace when hearing the Word of God. But rather, when convicted, may we be open to the Spirit’s transforming work in our lives, and eagerly give our word to obeying God’s commands.

Mike Altena

 


Others Have Done the Hard Work

By the time you read this article, you might already be tired of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Luverne, especially considering the forecasts are calling for a really hot weekend.  As I sit here writing this on Tuesday, however, I am excited to learn more about our history in the days ahead.  Here are some of the questions I am curious to know…

  • What was life like for the settlers in Rock County 150 years ago?
  • What part did faith play in the lives of those who founded Luverne?
  • What are some of the most memorable parts of our history such as natural disasters, funny stories, memorable characters, or the impact of national/int’l events?

The last few days did you find some of the answers to those questions or other questions you yourself were wondering?  Was there any way you saw God at work in the formation and development of this community?  No doubt many of the early settlers to Luverne sensed a divine calling to do something new for God, sort of like Israel long ago:

Numbers 14:8-9  “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us–a land which flows with milk and honey. “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people…the LORD is with us.”

Even before the people entered the Promised Land they were aware that temptation would come along with the blessings, and before too long this warning was forgotten.  A generation or two later, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), which included a lot of regrettable stuff.  How do you think we would measure up in comparison?  I wonder if the early settlers to Luverne were both excited about the prospect of plentiful, fertile land and yet apprehensive of the effect the lure of wealth and prosperity might have on their descendants.  Even if that concept did cross their minds, no doubt they had no clue what life would be like 150 years later!

This afternoon we will gather for the Community Worship Service to celebrate God’s faithfulness to Luverne over the past 150 years, but we will also begin to look to the future and imagine how God may lead us as a church, as Christians, and as a community.  I believe we have benefitted so much from the vision and faith of our ancestors who established communities like Luverne.  As Jesus said to his disciples, “Others have done the hard work, and you have benefited from their labor.”  (John 4:38)

Now the time has come to look beyond simply providing for our families, enjoying freedom to worship, and living a comfortable life.  The time has come to repent of ways in which we have conformed to the worldliness around us, receive a fresh vision from the Holy Spirit, and leverage our abundant resources to boldly expand God’s kingdom in Luverne, SW Minnesota, and to the ends of the Earth.  For God’s glory, may they look back during the 300th anniversary celebration some day and celebrate our generation for being spiritual visionaries on par with the early settlers to Rock County!

Cory Grimm

 


Crash!

A rhinoceros is an interesting creature.  It is well known for its impressive horn and massive size.  But did you also know the rhino can charge at 30 or 40 miles per hour, but is very nearsighted and can only see clearly about 15 feet in front of its face?  It is not ironic then that a group of rhinos is called a “crash”.

Crashes have been a topic of discussion around our table the last couple of weeks.  Our youngest daughter has been doing the classroom portion of Driver’s Education, and the parents were also encouraged to come to an evening of classroom training.  While watching a series of video clips, we were instructed to ask our child which parent they would prefer to have teach them how to drive.  Later, when we posed this question to our daughter, she thought it would be best if Dad taught her, reasoning that he was a better driver and had less crashes.

It’s always fuel for a good laugh in our family when someone brings up my driving record.  Let’s just say I had a rough start.  I have totaled more than one vehicle, and speaking from experience, a car crash is not a pleasant event.  One moment you are moving along nicely and the next moment you have violently come to a stop.  Regardless if there is an initial injury, you are going to feel it the next day, and possibly for a long time to come.  The memory of the before, during, and after plays on a continuous loop in your mind.  It will change your life in one way or another.  Personally, I have crashed into a ditch, into a cement pole, and into another vehicle, but nothing has been as life changing as when I crashed into Jesus Christ.

There are many examples in the Bible of God-sized collisions.  I’m sure Abraham felt like he had collided with a brick wall when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  Moses had a head on crash in the desert with a burning bush.  David came to a violent stop when his sin with Bathsheba was exposed.  Jonah was wrecked in the belly of a whale.  Mary’s life took a dramatic turn when she encountered an angel with Good News.  Peter was blindsided by a rooster.  The woman at the well had a pile-up with the truth of her past.  And Paul was ruined on the way to Damascus.  The list could go on and on.

It seems odd to think of Jesus in the wrecking business.  After all, “Jesus Saves”, right?  But if you think about it, when we save or salvage something, it’s usually first been wrecked to some degree or another.  The cool thing about Jesus is that we are wrecked by his overwhelming love for us.  He crashes into our  self-centered mess and realigns our life with his.  He takes our brokenness and makes us beautiful.  One of my favorite songs by Toby Mac is “Feel It”.  The chorus repeats these words: “Love came crashin’ in, never gonna be the same again.  Yeah, You came crashing in, You wrecked me, You wrecked me.”

It is my prayer that each one of you would be ruined by Jesus and for Jesus.  I pray that whether it be through a fiery bush, a barnyard animal, an unlikely event, a crash on the highway, or any other means that God uses to get your attention, that you would let your heart be broken open and experience Love like you have never felt before.

Break us, Lord!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Deep Roots

Have you noticed how tall the corn is getting in the countryside fields? It seems like only yesterday the little plants were just a few inches high as they emerged through the dark top soil. The old phrase “Knee High by the 4th of July” to this generation seems odd because the plants are usually chest high by the fourth of July! Genetics of corn and soybeans has changed a lot in my lifetime; I can only imagine how much it has changed since both my grandfathers planted their first crop on their family farms.

Always imagining I’d marry a man who lived in the city, I never paid much attention to the crops as a kid. Now that I live surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, I take a little more notice to their growth. This spring I was especially struck by the process in which a farmer cares for their crop. They prepare the soil by stirring it around, spreading fertilizers, planting the seed, and then trust the Creator of all things for rain and warm sunshine. There was no lack of wet weather early this spring and along with the cool temps, farmers were no doubt getting a little worried about a harvest this fall. Eventually the weather was more favorable and the seedlings sprouted through the top layer of soil, and then the work of spraying for weeds began. Some of the chemicals used for this process will burn your skin right off if you are not properly trained and take appropriate safety precautions. Yet, when diluted down with some water and applied to the field accurately, only the weeds shrivel up, not the tiny, fragile plants. Pretty incredible.

Similarly, our spiritual lives need the proper tender, loving care. As I grew up, my parents read God’s Word to me, we went to church on Sundays, and attended Sunday School and Midweek each week. They taught my siblings and I how to care for the needy and spread God’s love and kindness through the way they lived their life each day. They meticulously cared for not only my physical needs, but also my spiritual needs. Yet, the noxious weed of sin was part of me and threatened to choke out any fruit in my life. As I continued to grow into adulthood, I had to make choices to continue to care for my spiritual life. Sadly, there were times I allowed the weeds of sin to run rampant in my life. I was more concerned about what the world had to offer than seeking the gifts of my Father in heaven. Often times the world’s thrills seemed exhilarating, but usually were empty promises and short lived.

It’s true, there are times I do not care for my spiritual life as I should. Sleeping an extra half hour is more tempting than spending time in silence with my Father. I let a spiritual discipline or two slip and then complain about how hard it is to get back in the groove of practicing them. It’s amazing though, even in my mess, when I eventually recognize something is missing, I see God at work creating a way for me to come back to Him.

6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness…13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2

Are we as meticulous about our spiritual lives as the farmer is with his crop? Do we go to great measure to fix what is not right deep within us? May it not be so of us that we are so tangled up in the things of this world we neglect to care for our spiritual life rooted deep in Christ Jesus.

Becky Ossefoort

 


How Do You Recover?

A few weeks ago we spent some time with our granddaughters in Sioux Center.  Part of the joy of spending time with them is to watch their emerging personalities and to watch how they respond to conflict and crisis.  Sauren, who is the middle child, is three years old.  She is always happy and bubbly and often dances around on her tippy toes.  She spends a great deal of time in her imaginary little world having real life conversations with her dolls.

While we were there Suaren decided to go out onto the deck through the sliding doors in the kitchen.  However, as she was crossing the threshold where the door slides on, she tripped and face planted right on to the deck.  Vicki was standing right beside the open door and quickly scooped her up, and of course by that time Sauren was having a pretty good cry (the kind of cry when you can’t breathe for a bit).  Vicki frantically checked her over; thank goodness all of her teeth were in their original setting.

Vicki continued to console her, lavishing her with kisses and assurance that nothing was bleeding and that everything was okay.  But then after a few moments Sauren began to squirm to escape from Vicki’s loving arms, she wanted to lie on the couch; she wanted to be alone in her pain.

Sensing her pain, our oldest granddaughter, Rilyn, stepped in and offered Sauren some candy, but the trauma was still too fresh, and so she angrily turned away and repeated her request to lie on the couch. So Vicki laid her on the couch, propping her head on a pillow.  Then as Vicki began to turn away, still whimpering, Sauren asked her to go find her purple blanket—“the one with the dots”—“and, Bramma, can you bring me my IPad too.”  And so after Vicki brought the blanky and the IPad to Sauren, she was able to begin her road to recovery—alone with her sources of comfort.

As I reflected on Sauren’s response to her crisis, I wondered if my reactions are much the same when I stumble and fall and when my ego gets bruised.  Do I resist the Holy Spirit’s attempt to lavish me with love and words of encouragement?  Do I respond with anger when other’s try to cheer me up?  Would I rather be alone at my pity party?  And what are my first choices when trying to medicate my pain? (Mountain Dew and donuts, of course J)

We live in a society with a great deal of pain don’t we; a society full of people medicating themselves with alcohol, with a variety of drugs, with pornography and other fantasy escapes, by buying more stuff, by seeking to be “liked” and yet remaining isolated—the list of ways we seek to comfort our pain are endless.

And yet may it not be so with you and me.  May we be a people who, in the midst of our pain, first seek comfort from God while at the same time allowing others to sit with us.  And may we live confidently in the promises of Psalm 34, “I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises.  Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!  The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”

Seeking to recover in Christ alone, Mike Altena

 


Finding An Old Bulletin…

(hint:  the “bulletin blooper” is in this article, but it will be VERY hard to find!  You might have to talk with someone from the older generations to figure it out)

As I will share in the service this morning, during the recent transformation of the library into the new nursery, Doug Jacobsma, Property Chair, pulled an old bulletin out of the ceiling.  The bulletin was folded into the shape of an airplane, so we are assuming that it belonged to Harold Ver Steeg who was 13 at that time.  We have enjoyed reading the bulletin, and our worship order this morning will be mostly based on what they did back then.  Our theme for today is the fifth commandment, “Honor Yer’ Ma & Pa” (cowboy version), and we can do that by experiencing worship how it was when our parents and grandparents were younger in their faith.

The following information will give you a snapshot of what was going on when this bulletin was printed.  First of all, the service took place on March 28, 1971. According to weatherunderground.com, the high that day was 44 and the low was 27, and there was no precipitation.  What was happening in the world?  The night before, UCLA won its 5th consecutive NCAA basketball championship.  The Benny Hill Show was tops on television, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” won a Grammy.  There were countless headlines related to Vietnam, and the USSR was testing nuclear weapons.

What was going on in ARC during that time?  Enjoy a few announcements and lists of those serving:

  • This Sunday has been set by Minnesota Classis as a Day of Prayer for our prisoners of war.
  • Those whose last name begins with “D” are reminded to write a letter to our 6 members in the service.
  • Alvin Veldkamp (Shirley) has been received into membership…from Carmel Reformed.
  • Mrs. Dale Bosch (Karen) has asked for the transfer of her membership to Valley Springs.
  • The Steen RCYF invites everyone to hear THE SPURLOWS, a singing group from Grand Rapids.
  • Young people will be interested in knowing that the Bible Quiz has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 in Edgerton.

 

CONSISTORY – The Rev. Paul B. Caley, President

ELDERS                                                           DEACONS

John Oolbekkink, Clerk    1971           John Klay, General Fund Treasurer    1971

Cornelius Tilstra    1971                       Gradus Bouman, Building Fund Treasurer    1971

Louis Cleveringa    1972                      Ralph Petersen, Chairman of Deacons    1972

Norman Ver Steeg, VP    1972            James Vink, Financial Secretary    1972

Sam Renes    1973                               Morris Van Peursem, Benevolence Treas.    1973

Melvin Wynia    1973                            Harold Vande Berg    1973

 

          CHURCH STAFF

Organists  –  Mrs. H. Franken, Mrs. R. Petersen, Mrs. H. Jacobsma

Sunday School Superintendent  –  Melvin Wynia

Sunday School Superintendent  –  Mrs. Andrew Fikse

Custodian  –  Charles De Jongh

Head Usher  –  James Veldkamp

Church Secretary  –  Mrs. James Veldkamp

 


How’s Your Hearing?

Selective hearing. Is this a common disorder in your home and family? I had a good chuckle about it just last weekend at Austin’s baseball game. My mother-in-law said something to my father-in-law and Josh, but they were both completely oblivious to anything she was saying. They kept watching and cheering not hearing a word she said. With a smirk and a slight eye roll, she turned to me and said “Selective hearing, it must run in the family!” We had a good laugh and continued watching the players take home a victory.

I would like to believe I hear well, but the truth be told, I know I don’t hear everything I should. My kids call for me and when I don’t answer their plea becomes louder – but I would never pretend not to hear them! J When I reflect on my day, I all too often see where God asked me to do something, but I didn’t hear Him. Even worse, I sometimes choose not to hear Him. Often times the small, gentle voice of God is simply drowned out by the noise this world has to offer. How my soul wrestles to tone out the racket and simply be still and listen.

Last week the staff had the opportunity to take a retreat to Inspiration Hills for a day of quiet, reflection, and listening. Among the busyness of spring activities and preparing for a week of VBS, I wasn’t sure how I would have the time. Yet, my soul longed for a day to focus only on my Heavenly Father and be refreshed. Now before you think we all played hooky for the day, this was part of the study we are working through together called “A Way of Life.” Every one of us has been invited into a friendship with God and this study explores a way of life that is faithful to God’s good work. A portion of the study included a retreat to spend two hours alone in solitude and prayer.

In the scriptures we often see Jesus “retreating.” He would often withdraw from the crowds and things He was doing to spend time with His Father in prayer. Jesus knew the importance of having quiet time alone with the Father, in order to draw closer and be restored. Our “A Way of Life” study book puts it this way, “We must build into our lives what Jesus did – a deserted place to pray – if we hope to engage the world compassionately like Jesus. We need extended times and quiet places to stop, to reflect, to pray. For there we encounter more deeply our dignity, mystery, and uniqueness as persons in God’s image.”

Our lives are jam-packed full of responsibilities and distractions, and when you think about it, Jesus’ life was somewhat similar. He was always with his disciples teaching them; he was often interrupted by someone who desired His healing touch or others who wanted to challenge His teaching; and then there were the crowds who followed Him. Can you imagine being followed by thousands? How quickly one could grow weary from that!

What about you? How’s your hearing? Do you hear all that your Heavenly Father has to say to you? Do you yearn for a retreat to drink in the goodness of your Lord and Savior? May it not be so with us that we were so deafened by this chaotic world’s noise and busyness we could not hear the sweet, gentle voice of our great Master.

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31b

Becky Ossefoort