"All I want is a weekend where I can do nothing and not feel guilty about it. Just take in the beautiful fall weather with a walk, or bike ride, or something relaxing. Maybe next weekend...pray I can set that boundary and stick to it. I think my heart needs that."
I recently wrote those words to a friend, not really believing down time would or could happen.
I had just about every waking minute of October scheduled. Much of it was part of a large project at work, but there were also a number of social engagements that I was committed to for one reason or another.
My prayer request felt like an impossible dream.
And then, the phone rang.
It was another friend inviting me to a weekend away at a local retreat center. Although it was a sold out event, one of her party had a family emergency leaving an opening. The retreat weekend was just two days away - could I make it?
I looked at the calendar. I poured over my planner. I went back to the calendar and racked my brain, sure I must be forgetting something.
But there was nothing. The upcoming weekend was absolutely free from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. The only string of open days the entire month.
It was an answer to prayer and my answer to her was...yes!
I often say that God is in the details. That He cares about every aspect of our lives. So I don't know why I am always amazed when He answers a personal pray like this.
I hadn't been to this particular retreat center in years other than a day visit last summer. It's only a 45 minute drive at best, but I was already feeling relaxed by the time we drove onto the property.
The speaker for the weekend was Damaris Carbaugh.
Damaris has had a decades long solo singing career as well as being a soloist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. I've heard her beautiful, rich voice, but never saw her in person or heard her speak. I had no idea the treat I was in for.
She spent the weekend speaking on one verse - Romans 11:36. "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
A verse I'm sure I've read often. Or maybe I should say skimmed over, breezed through, or perhaps glanced at, because if you'd have asked me before that weekend if 2 1/2 days of teaching could come from that portion of a doxology, I would have said 'no'.
But in those 2 1/2 days, God reminded me that all good things are from Him alone. And when I suffer hardships, they have been filtered through Him, allowed sometimes for reasons I can't comprehend, but always worked together for my good in the end. And to Him - my praises and my cries - all things should go.
In the midst of those words of encouragement I was able to relax. There were plenty of options to do things in our down time, but I didn't join in.
Instead I chose to take a walk. Sit by the lake. Warm myself near a bonfire. Nap. Work on my book.
I wanted to open this unexpected gift and enjoy it fully.
Sunday afternoon came all too quickly, but even upon my return home, I was able to take one last nap.
Monday morning I plunged headlong into a very difficult and emotionally taxing week.
I knew my unexpected gift was meant to recharge me and prepare me for the road ahead.
And I was grateful. "To Him be the glory. Amen!"
Has God ever answered your prayer or met your need in an unexpected way? Please share it in the comments!