Published in  
March 15, 2022

Stepping Back to Retreat

We’ve been in a digital world for the past couple of years. Conversations on the rise through FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp. Domestic and international travel substituted for face-to-face screen time. The difficulties to visit long-distance friends have come at a price but if you’re willing to fight to make it happen, the reward that awaits that battle is worth it. This was the case with Colorado. 
Photography: Jeffrey Arthur

Several years ago, one of our staff had the vision of doing a surf retreat with some of the local youth we’ve been investing into in our community. The vision was simple, get away from the busyness of life, put the phones away, open the Word of God, fellowship, surf, and pray together. In many ways, it felt like it was the way we were intended to live. Three days of simplicity so counter to the world we’re saturated in; to literally step back as we retreated from the world. The vision came to life a few months later and as a result lives were truly changed for all eternity. At the end of those three days, we made the decision to make the retreats a primary focus for 2022 and the years to come. We set eight of these on the calendar, two of which would take place in Colorado. 

Photography: Jeffrey Arthur

We don’t get a lot of snow in Florida. Go figure. But for many of us that grew up in the Midwest or spent much time in the mountains, there is definitely something special about the altitude. Maybe it’s the thought that we are physically closer to God, or that’s just how it feels. But my gut says that as we take a step back and retreat, we actually move forward. In fact, it happens in more ways than we even realize. 

We had planned both a girls and guys trip to Colorado, separated by just a few days in between. The time in the Rockies was quick, and like a pit stop on a road trip, I would have loved to stay a bit longer; but the time we had was such a blessing. Three days together in a house surrounded by mountains with 12 men gathering from all over the United States is something special. True face-to-face engagement through devotions, praying for each other, sharing laughs, and giving hugs, all while sending it down the mountain for a few days of riding. Ages ranging from 20 to 52 and individuals flying in from all around the United States (Salt Lake City, Long Beach, Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Denver, and SWFL), to say there was diversity is an understatement. There is such beauty in that diversity though with the underlying mission of our time together being so much deeper than just boarding. In those three days we spent each morning and evening realigning the mission and vision that God has given us. We talked about what it looked like to truly love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to serve our families and lay our lives down for our wives. It seems so simple, but as we all agreed, sometimes the most simple things are the hardest to truly live out. After three days of riding, our bodies were sore but our hearts were full. There was little relaxation, but yet we were rested. 

Photography: Jeffrey Arthur

Hearing similar stories for the girls who also snuck away, it affirmed something for us that we hope to continue pressing into: we were made for community. We need it. We need to pursue it. We need to fight for it. God didn’t make us to live in isolation. When we run solo, we get tired. We wear down. Discouragement is inevitable. When we surround ourselves with others and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, when we retreat and run away from the rat race of the Western world, we encounter a place where we can hear from the Lord. His voice comes most times in the stillness and always in His word, but so often it also is shared through the mouths of those we do life with.

We returned to Florida confident of this: that we plan to retreat more often. We have five more of these intentional get always still planned for 2022. We would love to invite you to join us. It’s worth it. 

Photography: Jeffrey Arthur