Review: Invitation to Retreat

Kathy Hillman reviews "Invitation to Retreat" by Ruth Haley Barton.

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Invitation to Retreat: The Gift and Necessity of Time Away with God

By Ruth Haley Barton (InterVarsity Press)

Retreat means different things to different people. For the military, the word suggests forced withdrawal. Businesses use the term for hours of out-of-office planning. Children and some adults retreat to escape responsibilities. For church-goers, the expression implies guest speakers, planned activities and a packed schedule. However, Invitation to Retreat by Ruth Haley Barton takes a more biblical view.

The book invites the reader to plan times apart in strategic withdrawal to spend significant time quietly alone with God by relinquishing distracting influences, including electronics and external expectations. After all, she says, “We are not what we do.”

Barton, chief executive officer of a ministry aimed at fortifying Christian leaders, offers readers affirmation in when and how to choose retreat depending on life circumstances. Nevertheless, she encourages regular rhythms of retreat and rest.

Each of the 12 chapters begins with a meaningful quote and builds on the others. Titles include “Just Flop Down,” “Letting Go of Your Grip,” “Invitation to Recalibrate” and “Remember the Signs” with appendices on planning a personal retreat and fixed-hour prayer. Scripture, stories, examples and practical advice fill the pages.

Invitation to Retreat isn’t a book to be read once. It’s a volume to be explored as Christians answer the question, “How do I want to live so I can be the person God created me to be and knows me to be—which is, in the end, who I want to be?”

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Baptist General Convention of Texas

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