The Lulu Tree Retreat in Texas, May 2022

by Jeanne


In 1888, Ernest W. Shurtleff wrote the powerful warfare hymn, Lead on, O King Eternal. It begins with this verse:


Lead on, O King Eternal,

The day of march has come;

Henceforth in fields of conquest

Thy tents shall be our home.

Through days of preparation

Thy grace has made us strong;

And now, O King Eternal,

We lift our battle song.


When I read these words, I imagine a vast open space filled with well-trained warriors, equipped with armor and weapons, bellowing their battle song as they eagerly follow their Commander into the fight. I see the King Eternal raising His sword and charging into battle, followed by His faithful army. What I don’t see is weakness, weariness, and vulnerability.

In the context of warfare, “retreat” is the last word you want to hear. Retreat happens when the enemy is winning and the battle is all but lost. But in God’s upside-down kingdom, He sometimes calls His warriors to rest. To come apart and sit at His feet. To laugh and to cry and to mother one another. And something amazing happens. God meets His warriors in retreat, and glorious victories are won.




The Lulu Tree Board, along with our Director of Partner Care, recently gathered in the Texas hill country for several days of retreat. Six women traveling from Canada and across the US converged for an extended time of face-to-face encouragement, prayer, worship, and rest. The hymn’s second verse hints at what we tasted:


Lead on, O King Eternal,

Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,

And holiness shall whisper

The sweet amen of peace.

For not with swords’ loud clashing,

Nor roll of stirring drums;

With deeds of love and mercy

The heav’nly kingdom comes.

God met us in retreat with healing, hope, and promise, and as we lifted one another before the throne, holiness whispered the sweet amen of peace. Love and mercy, safety, and acceptance flowed. In Luke 17: 20-21, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, and he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” The kingdom of God was in our midst. We were on holy ground.


If someone had been spying on us, they would have seen quite a few moments of pure silliness, plenty of laughter, and hours upon hours of what appeared to be simply lounging around. But the conversations, exhortations, and prayers that filled those unhurried hours were etched in eternity. It reminds me of what the prophet Malachi said at a time in Israel’s history when the arrogant were called blessed and evildoers were putting God to the test and escaping. A time much like the one we’re living in. “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” Malachi 3:16



As we magnified our great God with one another, the Lord paid attention and heard, and perhaps our conversations were even recorded in a book of remembrance before Him. I know they were written on my heart.


We came apart for retreat, six weary warriors longing for renewal and restoration, and the Lord met us. And as we left, our hearts echoed the words of the hymn’s final verse:


Lead on, O King Eternal,

We follow, not with fears,

For gladness breaks like morning

Where’er Thy face appears.

Thy cross is lifted o’er us,

We journey in its light;

The crown awaits the conquest;

Lead on, O God of might.


We follow not with fears. Is there much that tempts us to fear? Always. But gladness breaks like morning as we fix our gaze on Jesus’ beautiful face. We journey in the light of the cross, knowing we are beloved and accepted by the One who goes before, with, and behind us all the way.


O God of might, we thank you for the gift of retreat. And now it is our highest joy and delight to take up our armor and follow You wherever You want us to go.

{in photo above, from top to bottom: Kayla Nelson, Board Director, and Social Media Director/Web Design; Jeanne Damoff (left) – Board Secretary and Prayer Coordinator; Susie Nelson (right) – Partner Care Coordinator; Tricia Simmons (left) – Board Treasurer and Web Care; Erica Claire (right) – Vice President, and Emily Theresa, President}