By Halftime Alum Claudia Cantrell
After returning to Atlanta from the Halftime Institute with my cohort in October 2015, I was so energized! I am sure that we, the alumni, share these memories of recalling past adventures, successes, failures, and losses. In addition, we had a great and fun time meeting and getting to know our cohort group and the coaches. We all left with a draft of our own personal mission statements, goals, and a determination to “tackle the world” and make a difference in our second half for the Kingdom of God.
The coaches in Dallas and my personal coach are amazing at “digging out” my passions. Currently, my coach and I pray before each monthly coaching call and ask God to reveal Himself during the conversation and not only to lead us to new revelations about Himself, but also what He is leading us to focus on during that session. I have always had a daily quiet time with the Lord, but most of that time is focused on what I want to tell Him or request of Him. I try to listen to what He is telling me, but I usually am too determined for Him to hear what prayer(s) I need answered. The problem was – and is – I rarely took the time to completely stop and listen to Him.
When the opportunity to go to the first Halftime Spiritual Renewal Retreat hit my email, I immediately declined even though it was being held close to my home. According to the itinerary, I would have devoted alone time with the Lord for hours at a time – every day! I had never had alone time like that with the Lord and it scared me to death. Not only was I afraid of what He would tell me to do, but I was also afraid of one or more blind spots in my life that He might reveal. In addition, how could I meditate and talk to Him for hours? Through the encouragement of others, I was convinced to go. So, I took the challenge and walked through my fear. I had to remind myself that Satan is the author of fear, not my Lord. (2 Timothy I:7 NASB)
What blessing was Satan trying to keep from me?
Since I was serious about finding out what was on the Lord’s mind, I had to listen and hear His “still small voice”. I had to make time to get away from any distractions, especially busyness from everyday life. I wanted more than anything to go deeper into an intimate relationship with Him and to give Him a heart that was completely undivided. If I wanted that intimacy with Him, I had to truly “be still” and know that He is God, the Almighty (Psalm 46:10 NASB). By being still and spending time only with Him, I gave myself the opportunity to listen. According to His promise, if I searched for Him with ALL my heart, I would find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13 NASB).
When I arrived at the retreat, our group met together with Jeff Spadafora who wanted to know at the start what we wanted to accomplish while there. I, personally, wanted clarification on what the Lord wanted me to pursue in the second half of my life. Since my husband and I met on a medical mission trip four years ago, I had transitioned from a full time career to a semi- retired role once we were married. During the last 2 years, I had written my first book. I knew that this retreat would provide me the chance to grow closer to God and give me the opportunity to get clearer direction. Was God directing me to pursue medical missions, continue writing and possibly speaking, a combination of the two, or another path?
Not only did I need the extended time alone with the Lord, but I also had to be silent. I wanted Him to “search my heart” and thoroughly examine my thoughts and my motives. I also suspected that WAITING would be involved. It would be nice if He would tell me everything in the first 30 minutes, but let’s get “real”. I needed to prepare to wait.
Since I prayed for a purified heart, I knew self-examination would occur and probably bring about a struggle or two with Him in return. I wanted a spiritual blessing as Jacob did in Genesis 32:25. However, in order to get that blessing I preferred not to get a dislocated hip like the one Jacob received after his wrestling with God! I knew that He had the best for me and I had to surrender ALL to Him including my heart’s desires and dreams. I wanted this spiritual retreat to better equip me to relinquish all.
During my alone time with the Lord, I had a lot of attempted distractions from Satan. I had thoughts about our upcoming vacation, what we were going to do there and what type clothes I needed to take, what my husband and daughter were doing, how I needed to exercise more, etc. I stood firm, however, and redirected my thoughts quickly back to Him. As the hours and days went by, I became more and more excited about meeting with God. He was truly revealing Himself to me and showing me things that I had not seen. He spoke in my spirit very clearly and deeply. I was seeking Him and finding Him, as He had promised. He softly said, “ Stop striving Claudia. Stop fighting My perfect will. If I call you to do something that you do not know how to do, I will not only supply the power, but I also will supply the skills. I have promised to direct your paths. You must fully trust Me. I can only honor faith, never doubt. I have it all planned, but I am not yet ready to show you. Wait and be still. Keep silent. Just know that I am God!”
I left the retreat renewed and at peace. I really started to enjoy spending alone time with Him for hours and waiting to hear His voice. Although I did not have my clarification on which direction I needed to go, I did hear clearly that I was to let go and wait PATIENTLY! No more striving. My future and life were completely in His capable, loving hands and I had NOTHING to fear.
I would encourage all Halftime alumni to go to one of the Spiritual Renewal Retreats. God has a lot to say to all of us, all the time. If we want to hear Him clearly, we should set apart time, get alone, be quiet, and let Him do His work in us to transform us into His likeness.
Interested in attending an upcoming Spiritual Renewal Retreat?
Gently facilitated by Lloyd and Linda Reeb, authors of Halftime For Couples, our Spiritual Renewal Retreats are in a beautiful, peaceful environment insulated from the man-made world and all of its distractions and noise. It is a time for you to gain fresh insights into your relationship with God and others plus develop a deeper sense of community with those Halftime Institute Alumni who have the same desire. Spouses of Alumni are welcome also.