This week we’re away for our annual pastoral staff retreat.
In years past we would get away once a year, but it was more like two days full of meetings off site. For the past two years, though, we’ve actually had an opportunity to retreat. Instead of spending two days filling out flip charts and planning ministry, we spend two days in solitude and community, resting in God’s presence and reflecting on his goodness.
This week I have the opportunity to get away for two days, spending time with my amazing coworkers and my even more amazing God.
I wanted to go on a hike during our solitude time yesterday. We had four hours to spend with God and I thought a hike would get me some good exercise and some good time with God. Unfortunately, because of the high fire danger here in southern California, the hiking trail was closed
So instead of hiking through the mountains I took a walk through the city. And fell in love.
I’ve always been a city kind of guy. I can appreciate nature and the outdoors, but I feel more in my element in the city, even the smaller suburbs that I’ve grown up in. As I walked through the city yesterday, though, I grew to appreciate cities even more.
I had hopes to experience God by hiking through nature but I ended up experiencing God on a walk through Sierra Madre, CA.
I experienced God in the cars driving down the road.
I experienced God in the people I passed by.
I experienced God in the businesses that lined the streets.
I experienced God in Starbucks.
I’ve experienced God in nature before because I’ve often gone into nature with the intention of experiencing God. This was the first time that I walked through a city with the intention of experiencing God. And while I didn’t see any massive trees or small wild animals, I was still able to experience God.
God loves the city and he can meet us there. Jeremiah 29:7 says:
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Even in exile, God wanted his people to care for Babylon. How much more does God want us to care about the cities in which we live?
I’m definitely not an expert at loving my city, but experiencing God on its streets is a good start.
How have you experienced God in the city?