Rest. We all want it. Maybe more often than we will admit. That's why it doesn't surprise me when people come back from a holiday and are already planning the next one. Could it be then that we are looking for it in the wrong places?
Rest is defined as the action "to (cause someone or something to) stop doing a particular activity or stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength." (Cambridge Dictionary 2018). So when I recently took the opportunity to attend the CroCatholic Retreat in Sydney, the words in Mark 6:31 jumped out at me: "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest"
Sounds peaceful, right? Somewhere picturesque with the chance to escape reality for a short period and just for a moment not have to think about when your next meeting is, how many birthday events you have coming up or one of the other 100 things you have to do from your to-do list.
That's exactly what Jesus is inviting every person to do. Come to him. By yourselves. To a quiet place and get some rest.
The CroCatholic Retreat I have found was exactly that. It's was an opportunity to rest in a quiet surrounding, with great people who shared the same common interests and were all seeking to learn more about their faith but most importantly, dig deep to discover their personal relationship with God.
It has only been 5 days since the retreat finished up and all I keep hearing from those that attended is "I miss it", "I want to go back" and "I'm having retreat withdrawal symptoms". We seem to all be on such a high and many will let you know this is the happiest they have ever been in their life.
As much as it may be hard for many to comprehend, a relationship with God does bring you an overwhelming amount of joy. It's as though your heart is overflowing and you can't stop it.
So when I see people's negative reactions when they hear about retreats, mass, prayer, and anything related to our faith or hear of their doubts that people actually have found happiness, peace and the greatest version of themselves through their relationship with God, it leaves me puzzled.
Imagine a job position advertised in a local newspaper. It sounds perfect. Like it was made just for you and with that job, you would not only be challenged and have enough pay to live a happy life but you would have enough time for family, friends and your hobbies. It actually is the perfect job for you and no other person in the world could fulfill it as well as you would. Would you not apply for it? Of course you would.
That's exactly what your place in heaven looks like. It only has your name on it and if you don't strive to get there then it will remain empty. No one else can fulfill it like you can. It is the place that you can get to if you strive to be the greatest version of yourself and in order to do that, you need to practice your faith, learn more about it and discover the beautiful relationship with God that is hidden behind that brick wall you have built around your heart over the years. In order to discover that joy, peace and beauty you need to apply for that position of the greatest version of yourself. Are you doing all you can to apply for it and strive to get to the greatest version of yourself?
The truth is the CroCatholic Retreat has left many who attended hungry for more. Wanting others to experience the joy they currently have. There's a fire in us that is burning and we want to make sure it doesn't burn out. So when it came to writing this week's blog post, I only wanted to share that fire and guide others to understand that our beautiful Catholic faith is not just for a 'selected few'. It is for everyone that strives. We will all fall a million times over but so long as we get back up and keep moving forward, we will get there.
So as we begin this season of Lent, if you find you are tired with life, tired of trying to work out what you're meant to be doing, tired of the negativity in this world - search for rest with God. Let that be your Lenten mission. Take something on instead of giving something up. As Jeremiah 29:13 states, "you will look for me and find me when you look for me with all your heart". The greatest version of yourself is possible. It just starts now. Seek, and you will find.
Dictionary.cambridge.org. 2018 https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/rest (16 Feb 2018)