Retreat- the forced or strategic withdrawal of an army or an armed force before an enemy; the act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy
Surrender- to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield
Advance- to move or go forward; proceed
I just returned from a four day retreat. Spiritual retreat, not military retreat. But I think there is something to be gleaned from these military terms.
After all, sometimes life feels like a battle that’s gotten out of control. At least it does for me.
So many times we see retreat as a sign of weakness. We didn’t have the strength to fight anymore so we had to withdraw. And… it’s true. Often times we don’t’ have the strength to keep fighting because we are weak. Why is that so hard to admit? That we need rest, we need to back away from the fight?
The truth is… unless we retreat we will never win. We will lie there on the battlefield battered and bleeding until the very life we are fighting for slips away.
The key to being a good Commanding Officer is being able assess the moral of his troupes to determine if the battle can continue or if he should sound the retreat. The key to being a good soldier is obedience to the orders of your Commanding Officer. When God tells us to retreat, then honey we need to high tail it off the battle field and look for a place to hide!
Which brings us to step two… surrender. When dealing with military terms surrender is the worst possible outcome of any battle. But, when dealing with our relationship with Christ, surrender is the absolute best possible outcome. It is only when we surrender fully and completely to Him that we can be ready to face the battle. And nine times out of ten surrender only happens in moments of retreat, in places of safety.
Once we allow ourselves to retreat and surrender something amazing happens. Peace that is unexplainable wraps its arms around us. Everything in us wants to stay in that place and never leave. But the purpose of retreat is not retirement. The purpose of surrender is not to stop. The purpose is to get back up and get back in the battle. Only this time, we don’t fight alone. Sometimes we don’t fight at all; we simply stand in amazement and watch the mighty hand of God fight on our behalf.
Where are you today?
Is the battle raging around you? Is your sword too heavy to carry anymore? Retreat!
Are you hiding in fear from the battle but still clinging to your rights, your plans, your desires? Surrender!
Are you in a place of peace and surrender, refusing to get back into the fight? Advance!
There are seasons for each of these places. Appointed times for each of us to retreat, surrender and advance. The cycle repeats itself often. Only when we are listening to His voice can we know where we are supposed to be. Enjoy each part of the journey. They are all equally sweet and equally necessary.