I recently watched the movies Dunkirk and Darkest Hour. Each movie shows us a glimpse of the realities of war and the inner workings of Britain’s government as they waged war against Nazi Germany, and they both culminate around the Battle of Dunkirk. Britain had jumped into the fray to help their allies and to prevent the spread of the harmful ideology of the Nazis; however, they were quickly met with a superior army that pushed them back. The British were faced with some tough choices and a lot was at stake. They could continue the battle – likely resulting in the loss of over 300,000 soldiers, they could surrender to Germany – basically changing the future of the entire world, or they could retreat.
Wait, retreat. No one wants to retreat. We are told to fight harder, push back, give it our all, or even 110%, which, by the way, isn’t possible. If we embrace this mentality, then, like Britain, all would be lost. Their entire army would have been captured or killed. Instead, they retreated, and they enlisted the help of private citizens and their boats to come to the rescue. They were able to save the lives of 330,000 men. The battle was a loss; however, in the hearts of the people, it was a victory. It allowed them to regroup, to change course, and, along with others entering into the battle, ultimately to be victorious.
We don’t usually equate our lives with a battle, but we do face challenges daily. Without time for reflection, we fail to see alternative options or to change course. We find ourselves fatigued and believing there is no way out. Many camps also operate as retreat centers. These retreat centers offer space for guests and their groups to slow down, reflect, heal, regroup, and prepare for life. They allow us to change course and to be rested and prepared for what’s to come.
I would encourage you and the groups you are a part of to take some time to step away, to grow as individuals and as a community to face whatever you are up against. Retreats offer space to discover more about yourself, others, and the deeper ways of God. They offer you a respite from day-to-day life. We often say we don’t have time, but how could we not have time to participate in something that could lead us to more success and abundant life. It’s time to retreat!
For 6th to 12th graders, Loucon offers our Engage Retreat. It is an opportunity for individuals or youth groups to come away from all their challenges and to engage with themselves, others, and God! Sometimes what draws us to victory is a retreat.
-by Warren Hopper