Retreat: to withdraw
Often, we speak about going on a retreat, meaning to withdraw away from the busy-ness of life, the noise and distractions. We retreat to refresh and refuel.
We are going on a retreat this weekend. Lord willing, we are already at Camp Keystone about an hour from Jacksonville up in North Florida. But this isn’t the kind of retreat where we withdraw but where we engage.
We will be taking 50+ men from the rehab center we’re in charge of and meeting with 5 other centers for an annual, mis-named retreat. Maybe we should call it the Play Hard and Pray Harder weekend because they will forget they aren’t teenagers as they take to the basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. They’ll run an obstacle course and cast a fishing line. They will aim their arrows at the targets and consider their next move in chess.
From card and board games to the ones played under the beating sun, bodies will be worn and torn and the vans on the ride home will be filled with the sounds of hard sleep and and the scent of Ben Gay.
They will sleep in cabins (air conditioned because it’s still Florida!) and have a couple of days without the usual sleep-eat-work-meetings routine. For some, it will be their first time to experience anything like this.
While they retreat from the city and group meetings and work therapy, they will engage in celebrating victories and displaying grace in losing. They will be reminded that sportsmanship counts more than the final score. They will see us fiercely cheer for them, our men, our team. They will discover how much I know about sports and how fearless I am at heckling the ref. We’re friends or it wouldn’t be any fun at all.
In between the activities, we will come together to engage in praise and open our hearts and minds to God’s word as it will be shared through song and teaching. We will be filled to overflowing with life abundant.
For us, it’s a privilege to share this all expense paid weekend with men whose lives were so out of control they ended up at our door. They ended up at The Salvation Army, thought of as homeless. Like the father in the story of the lost, we’ve been watching for them to come home. Home to recovery, to restoration, to recovery and into the loving arms of Jesus.