Well, I am back from my study retreat. (Last week I took a three-day study retreat to prepare for the next message series at church.)
Wednesday morning I drove up to my parents’ home in Kennebunk, Maine. It was about a three-hour drive, so I began my retreat on the road by listening to some of my favorite music that helps me focus my heart on God. I arrived just in time for lunch (how convenient!) and spent some time catching up with my parents over a meal before settling in to study for the afternoon.
For the retreat I spent my mornings and afternoons in study and prayer. I spent Wednesday afternoon just reading through 1 Samuel 1-7, lingering in the text, taking notes on various themes and looking for connections. The next several days I spent blocking out the sermon texts and themes while interacting with several commentaries. I took breaks for meals and in the evenings to enjoy time with my parents.
It is amazing how much you can get done with large blocks of uninterrupted time. Time management experts say that even a five-minute phone call can disrupt your concentration and easily cost you 30-40 minutes of productivity. The computer with email and internet access can also be a source of small interruptions during the day. To guard against this, I did all of my studying away from the computer, writing out my notes longhand on lined paper in a notebook. Hopefully, I will be able to read my own handwriting as I reference these notes in the coming weeks for sermon preparation!
All in all it was a great study retreat. Thanks to my wife and children for graciously letting me take off for several days. Thanks to my parents for hosting me at their home. Thanks to my church for letting me take the time away from the office for this extended time of study. And thanks to my blog readers for being (mostly) nice in the comments while I was away.