Before we had children, my husband and I loved hiking and backpacking. My favorite part is strategic stops along the way to enjoy amazing views, wildlife and wildflowers, and, of course, refueling over a campfire. Once we had children tagging along, taking breaks on hikes became even more important. Along with our own fatigue, we’re taking care of their varying needs along the way — which can be draining as well.
Every journey requires times of rest to regroup and restore physically and mentally. It’s no different with our spiritual journey. If we’re running full steam ahead ourselves and constantly pouring out to others without being refilled, we can quickly run out of gas and find ourselves depleted and empty.
God provided the very first example of intentional refreshment: He rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. Later He instructs Israel to do the same. Intentional rest has both a physical (Exodus 23:12) and spiritual purpose (Psalm 42:1-2).
“It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” — Exodus 31:17
Jesus also instructed us to find release from our burdens and restoration in Him:
“Come to Me, all you 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.” — Matthew 11:28-29
When I find myself running on empty, my first move is to stop and seek the Lord for restoration. Sometimes daily refreshment is enough, and other times I’m so drained that I need a more deliberate break for spiritual restoration.
Here are five places that I reconnect with the Lord for spiritual refreshment:
1) Devotionals: I choose a daily devotional for my morning refreshment with the Lord. Different from a Bible study, a devotional provides scriptures and a related message to meditate on for the day — no homework involved. Last year I shared why I decided to move my devotional time to the morning for daily refreshment, even though I’m not a morning person. If you’re like me and often find yourself needing to quiet your mind in the evenings, you can add a second devotional reading time before you go to sleep.
2) Worship Time: Musical worship provides spiritual refreshment as well (see 1 Samuel 16:23, Psalm 28:7). David is the best example I know of someone who regularly used musical worship to restore his spirit and quiet his anxiety, as illustrated throughout the Psalms. No need to be a talented singer here. I created a praise playlist on my iPhone, which I listen to and sing along with during my morning routine — and any other time of the day when I need to stop and regroup.
3) Grateful/Thankful Journaling: A gratitude journal may sound cliché, but I can assure you that when you begin to record your gratefulness to God on a daily basis, it will change you from the inside out. Two years ago I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts when I was going through serious challenges, and the process of recording God’s gracious gifts daily, intentionally, was particularly healing and restoring for me. Take notice, then stop and record that gift. Give thanks with a grateful heart, and your outlook will change! (See 1 Timothy 4:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.)
4) Faithful Friends: There’s a big difference between friends who refuel you and those who drain you. While we may maintain relationships where we are pouring out for the purpose of ministry, we also need relationships that restore and strengthen us (see Romans 15:32, 1 Corinthians 16:18). Fellowship with your spouse, as well as other believers, is important for your spiritual refreshment. Whether you have a formal small group or women’s Bible study to connect with or you have coffee with a friend, regular fellowship is vital to staying effective on your journey.
5) Retreat: Although it’s been a while since I’ve attended a formal retreat, I think the concept of spiritual retreat is vital no matter how it logistically takes place. To retreat does not mean to run away from your battles: It’s a chance to fall back for the purpose of restoration and rejuvenation. Once again, Jesus showed us Himself that we may need to retreat and be refreshed often (see Luke 5:15-16). You might take a day off to spend time with the Lord one on one, or you might take a couple of days off with your spouse or gather with sisters in Christ.
When times are tough, seeking spiritual refreshment is even more critical. We’re in a real spiritual battle, and we need all the strength that God has promised to provide when we take time out to be restored by Him (see Ephesians 6:12-13). Let’s follow His example and guidance as laid out in scripture and make spiritual refreshment a priority in our personal journeys.
What are your greatest struggles with finding time for spiritual refreshment? How do you seek refreshment on a daily basis? Do you make time to rejuvenate with friends or take an occasional retreat?