“And we, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).
CONTEMPLATE, verb transitive [Latin]
1. To view or consider with continued attention; to study; to meditate on. This word expresses the attention of the mind, but sometimes in connection with that of the eyes; as, to contemplate the heavens. More generally, the act of the mind only is intended; as, to contemplate the wonders of redemption; to contemplate the state of the nation and its future prospects.
CONTEMPLATE, verb intransitive To think studiously; to study; to muse; to meditate.
He delights to contemplate on the works of creation.
- Webster's American Dictionary (1828 edition)
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV throughout).
A contemplative retreat is intended to help participants “study, muse, meditate on” the Lord Jesus and the wonder of His love for us. God is always the Initiator and as the Apostle John reminds us, our love for God is a response to His love for us. At our contemplative retreats, we focus on providing a program and a schedule that will help women open their hearts to receive the truth of God's love for them personally, that they might respond by falling in love with Jesus all over again.
A retreat is not the same as getting away on vacation; it’s not simply stopping all of our vocational work so we can get away from it all. No, on retreat, we cease all work—we intentionally stop for the purpose of receiving God’s gift of rest and once we are physically rested we are able to be fully present to the Lord and let our souls rest (Psalm 62: “My soul finds rest in God alone”). We provide hours of quietness so as we go for a walk we can hear the songs of the birds and feel the gentle breeze and enter into prayer. We have hours to spend reflecting on a passage of Scripture, reading and journaling without being interrupted by people speaking around us. These times of silence and being alone (as opposed to talking with our girl friends), are integral components of our time away because when we stop our work, limit distractions and have our own time to pursue spiritual practices that bring life to us, we find we settle down inside and we can connect with the Lord. It is our connection with the Lord, deepening in our understanding of His love for us, recognizing we are in His Presence always, that leads us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
When we come away with Jesus we will find our comprehension of the depth and breadth and height and length of His love increases (Ephesians 3); and knowing He loves us quiets our anxious hearts and meets our deepest needs. He fills us up to overflowing, so when we return home we can pour ourselves out in service because we have been refreshed.
The theme verse of the Springs retreat comes from Isaiah 58 and it is our prayer for each one who comes to a retreat: “The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame, and you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).
Have you ever wondered how David came to be a “man after God’s own heart”? Perhaps it was all those months of being alone out on the hillside with his father's sheep that drew him into the presence of the Lord and gave him opportunity to meditate on His Word and ponder the wonder of creation that developed the depth of intimacy evidenced in David's psalms. As a shepherd, David communed with God in prayer.
Tricia McCary Rhodes writes in her wonderful book, Soul at Rest: “Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the term ‘contemplative prayer.’ It is an ancient term for a form of prayer that has been almost lost to the modern world. Very simply, contemplative prayer is communing with God through quiet moments of meditation, listening, and reflecting on Him. It is our response to God’s call to ‘be still, and know.’ This is called the ‘inner prayer journey’ because instead of rushing into prayer with an agenda or grocery list of requests we quiet our souls until God can speak and we are able to hear His gentle voice. His Word breathes new life into our spiritual walk as we let Him write its truths on our heart. We enter a love affair with the God of the universe” (Soul at Rest—A Journey into Contemplative Prayer, p 12-13).