Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Freedom to Retreat

Image Courtesy of Michal Marcol/
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11: 29-30 ASV

I recall a several years back when a young mother went missing from the small village in which we were living at the time.  The local news was covering it quite closely because she had indicated to her employer that she had noticed someone following her on her way to work; and then she never returned from her break.  Once I learned that she was a single mom of a young child, I thought to myself, "she ran away."  I thought this, not in a judgmental way, rather in an empathetic way.  You see, I once wanted to run away too.  It wasn't too long before the news reporters revealed that the young mother had been located and that she had, indeed, run away on her own.  

I could not judge her, because I had once considered doing the same.

My daughter was only about 16 or 17 months old at the time. Don't get me wrong; I had wonderful support all around me.  An amazing husband, great in-laws, and my family just across the Wisconsin border in Minnesota.  We had a church family, and good friends. However, I was suffering from un-diagnosed postpartum depression, our daughter had undergone three eye surgeries and another surgery to have her port placed for chemotherapy as she also had cancer.  All the human support in the WORLD could not have helped me crawl out of the pit in which I found myself.  

I was as low as I could get.

I remember driving on the interstate and seeing a sign that read, "Chicago" with the arrow pointing straight ahead.  

Hmmmm...what would it take to run away from this?  Would I find peace somewhere else?

The thought was pushed away as quickly as it had formed...I knew that my love for my family wouldn't allow me to run away.  I knew that running away wouldn't solve anything or heal anyone.  So I took the exit to Madison and continued home.

How many times have YOU wanted to run away?  

When Jesus bids the weary to come onto him, he does not claim to be giving us NO pain, or NO work.  He tells us to take HIS yoke and carry HIS burdens.  He says he can make our work easier and our load lighter because he has already taken OUR yoke upon himself.


We can't pick up his yoke and he can't pick up ours until we go to him and meet him.  It DOESN'T work without the "in person" exchange.  I can't go into the field and look at all the yokes there and say to the person who runs the 'yoke lay-away', "Yeah, I need Jesus's yoke, and I'm just going to leave this one here for him."  


We need time with Jesus.  We need to retreat.  We need to acknowledge that we have a heavy burden and we need to spend some quiet time with Jesus in order to transfer our burden to him.  I'm not saying we need a prayer cabin, or a weekend retreat, or a fancy cruise.  I'm saying we need to carve out an hour from our schedules and find a quiet room or corner of the house and grab a pen and paper and write out our prayers.  Lay our burdens down for Jesus.  Pour out our fears, and whatever is weighing us down.

Can we do that?  

I was blessed to witness my daughter hug her grandpa good-bye the other day and say, "let's pray for your surgery."  And then she DID!  She's a ten year old, legally blind cancer survivor who knows that the BEST thing we can do is slow down and PRAY!  

Jesus retreated.  The King of the world fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights in the desert (Matthew 4).  He retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane a number of times to pray just before his betrayal (Matthew 26).  He knew that by retreating into a place of quiet contemplation and conversation with God, he would have the strength to handle what was coming his way.

When was the last time you retreated with God?  When will you take time to exchange yokes with Jesus and carry the lighter burden that he has waiting for you?

Pray:  Heavenly Father, you have given us everything we need to make our way through this life on earth. Help us remember to spend time with you so you can reveal to us the truth; so we can refresh our souls and carry the lighter yoke which you offer to us through your son.  Amen.

~Tammie Hefty


  1. Thanks for your honesty about wanting to run away and insight as to what to do. We all could use a little more retreat in our lives.

    1. Thank you, Ann! We have such a hard time surrendering to that need, don't we? I find it so much easier now to take some time because I realize my limits a lot better, and KNOW when I'm away from God too long! :)