The blog below is by Dawn Verkaik and her experience at a Spiritual Retreat called the Quest. Oceans Retreat Center is hoping to host a Quest South Africa retreat for men in February 2022.
As I headed out the doors of a ranch with 14 other women in silence, I was fully equipped to spend the day out side but I had no idea where I was going to go or how I was going to fill 9 hours in the woods of Texas! It was my second full day on a Woman’s Spiritual quest where women from all walks of life came together to encounter the Lord in their struggles and deepest hurts; to find freedom from all that holds one back from living the life God intended.
Many deep, bitter hurts were shared & tears were shed the night before, and we were given the opportunity to go into the presence of God, bring Him all those struggles, hurts & frustrations, and trust Him to lead & guide us the entire day! What a gift! Yet I was anxious, nervous and feeling quite frustrated. I had never really done anything like this before, and I was unfamiliar with the “woods” of Texas and whatever critters there may be! Also, we had to fast the entire day!
Well, let me share how I was led throughout my entire day! In my devotions the night before I was greatly encouraged by His words in Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He leads me besides quiet waters; he guides me along the right path. Even though I headed out with these promises ringing in my head, it quickly & easily turned into frustration & doubt. I was marching out with other ladies, determined not to go where anyone else went, yet still not knowing where to go.
It had rained hard overnight, and my hiking boots & socks were soaked in no time as I walked through knee-high wet grass. I remember saying in frustration, “how am I suppose to find Quiet Waters anyway Lord?!” Then I felt His Spirit tell me, “Be Still.” So I stopped, took a minute to look around and to listen. Did I truly hear some water? Did I see some trees spaced just right for my hammock? I ventured down an embankment to a low lying area of trees, then I heard a “plunk”! Walking towards the noice, there it was! A quiet, barely flowing little stream! (not sure what had fallen in it?!?). My Quiet Waters! OK Lord! I can do this! Now to hang my hammock – which I’ve never done! The trees were just the right space apart, but then fear crept in as I was told snakes liked to lay their eggs near the base of certain trees!?! Well in no time I had my hammock hung quite well, and I settled in to it with my Bible, journal, workbook/ manual, water & umbrella!
As my day progressed, I remember feeling more and more at peace as I wrestled with my struggles and the things that hold me back from truly experiencing Gods goodness in my life! I listened to the birds chirping around me and thought of how much God cares for each one of them; how much MORE He will care for me! Also, listening to the wind as I felt it come from all directions around me. I sensed the Holy Spirit was surrounding me & filling me with how much the Father loves me! Later, following the instructions to take a “Hike with God”, I came upon water flowing into the quiet stream. This gave me a picture of desiring the Holy Spirit to flow into me; to fill me so that I could be rid of all my fears, worries and the things that hold me back in order to be used by God. I was overwhelmed with the closeness of our ever- present God and truly did not want my fast to end.
As I finish writing this I am celebrating Pentecost. How amazingly orchestrated. That on this day I am reminded once again that the Holy Spirit, our amazing advocate, desires to be sought after and to fill each person who loves God. You don’t need an entire day, you just need to be willing, open and take the time to be quiet & listen.
John 14:16-17 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.
To feel the Holy Spirit leading and guiding me throughout a day which began with anxiety and frustration, gave me a longing to have more & more of this peace and shalom that the Holy Spirit loves to give!