When Rest Becomes the Enemy

 

By MARY GEISEN

Is rest just another four-letter word? Do I allow myself to rest or treat it as something I should avoid at all cost? When I slow down, am I fully present in the moment?

Growing up, I remember the lazy days of summer. Each day there was a smattering of play and pool time, and mixed in were long periods of cloud gazing, reading, or just hanging out with the neighborhood kids. There were no schedules and the best part of the day was when dusk descended and all the kids emerged from their houses to play Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard.

Rest was my friend, and I relished the chance to move from one activity to another with no agenda. I am not sure what age this all changed but rest no longer came easily and it reared its head as more of an enemy than a friend. The summer days of childhood are now long gone and instead, I let my to-do list take over my days. Somewhere along the path, I lost my way and in the process, I forgot how to slow down and rest.

Now, as I make my way through the middle part of my life, I find I am seeking rest on a more regular basis. It all has to do with presence and the chance to not miss a moment of life that happens when I am with those I love the most. I describe it as being where your feet are.  But the more I look for that elusive rest, the more I crave it, just as the more I seek God and relationship with Him, the more my appetite increases to taste and see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8 NLT)

God promises us rest in Him (Psalm 62:5) When we are weary and burdened, God is still there to give us rest (Matthew 11:28) There is nothing God won’t do when we feel overwhelmed and overcome by daily life. He desires to carry our burdens for us (Psalm 68:19)

Rest is not the enemy. Rest is the restorer of our souls and God is the Great Provider. Let’s give ourselves permission today to slow down, lose the to-do list and rest our weary bodies.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  If rest is the restorer of your soul and God promises rest, then what would it look like to turn to God for a deeper and richer restoration of your soul? When the loss of presence with those you love takes over quality time, how will you recognize the loss? If your to-do list becomes more important than being with the people you love, what will you do to reverse the effect?

Let’s work together on giving ourselves grace for those days that are just going to be busy. After extending grace, take time to reflect on one thing you can change that will provide you the space to do something that fills your soul–quiet time, reading, walking, or taking a nap. I give you permission to try it just as I give myself the blessing to do the same.

As you are making the space for rest, try releasing all distractions from sight or in your mind the next time you gather with friends and/or family. The gift of presence is soul-filling and heart-expanding.

You are worth the time and effort it takes to lose the to-do list and let God lead your days.

PRAYER  Father God – Thank you for the promise of new life in you. May I recognize my need for rest and choose the space to work it in each day. As I wake up each morning, point me away from busyness and draw me closer to you. Show me how to be fully present each day as I release all distractions to you. Thank you for knowing me better than I know myself. You are a good, good Father! Amen.

 

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Be Where Your Feet Are

By MARY GEISEN

I’m a detail girl. Give me an outline of what is happening first, second, and third and I’m a happy camper. I like surprise gifts, but if you told me that I was leaving tomorrow on a trip to a destination unknown, I might freak out. I want my feet firmly planted and a list to check off when I complete an item.

There are times I run into trouble when I am so forward-focused. I want to know the plans but end up losing sight of what is happening at the moment. I forget how to be where my feet are. It feels good to stay ahead of the game and have an idea as to what’s next. My anxiety remains under control and my bent toward perfectionism keeps me on track.

I can’t help but wonder how much I am missing in the present because of my desire to know what’s next. Have you ever felt you missed out on any part of life because you chose not to be where your feet are? What does it look like to soak in the present without any distractions?

For some of you, the questions leave you more confused. You might be asking me instead, what do you mean miss out on life? Then there are others who are nodding their heads in agreement but still don’t have the answers to lingering in the present.

As I make my way through the middle part of my life, I continue to learn how much I enjoy hanging with my kids, grandson, and their wives. If I am to get the most out of this time, the phone needs to be put away and I need to be where my feet are. Presence is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s also okay to ditch the “to do” lists in favor of in real life time with friends and family.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there. (Psalm 139:7-8 NLT)

What joy to know God is always with us. What a gift it is to do the same for those we love.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT My son and daughter-in-law recently took a sabbatical from social media. They turned their phones off and spent time together as a family. I know others who have also done the same thing, but their intentionality in choosing to focus on the present touched me deeply.

Ever since they made this choice I have contemplated what that would like for me. To be honest, it scares me just a bit. Living without my phone for a day or even two doesn’t seem possible. What would I do?

If I am seeking to be where my feet are, I can’t assume that when given the opportunity I will be fully present. Life is full of so many distractions. My goal is to put my phone on silent for a day. As you and I seek the gift of presence, let’s turn off our phones or release ourselves from all distractions. Knowing I am not alone in this endeavor makes it so much easier.

PRAYER  Heavenly Father- Just as I seek to be present with my loved ones, you desire my presence with you. Release me from all distractions that I may know you more intimately. Show me how to let go of all interruptions in my daily life that I may serve you by loving others more authentically. You are a good, good Father and your gift of presence in my own life is the ultimate blessing. I love and praise you. Amen.

 

You can connect with Mary Geisen in the following places:

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A Safe Place to Land

By MARY GEISEN

Three years ago, I finished a conversation with my son and daughter-in-law with these words, “Come home!” Struggling with a decision that took them miles away from home and then learning that the opportunity looked nothing like they imagined left me with only one answer–they needed a safe place to land.

They have shared with me more recently that allowing them to “come home” meant more than anything. You see, they had given up their home and put all their belongings into storage to enter this mission assignment. My son and daughter-in-law possessed “things” but were lacking a safe place to land. I said the first thing that came to mind and it made all the difference.

One of the things I treasure is knowing I have a safe place of my own. Whether it is a physical home or the people in my life I call family, I am covered in security and always have a soft place to land. Reality for some does not look like this. Safe is a word and a desire but isn’t always the truth for our life. My kids have experienced this firsthand in several different ways. Leaving to become missionaries is one example, but having their lives violated by a robbery and watching my other son by an unforeseen divorce shook their view of safety.

I don’t know what “a safe place to land” looks like for you. Do you have friends and family who surround you when life is overwhelming? Or when physical challenges become too much are you able to rely on medical help to lead you back to wholeness? Has your physical, emotional, or mental being ever been violated? None of these are okay and everyone needs their own safe place to restore, heal, and rest.

My life has not been without hard challenges and difficult solutions but through them all I continue to find redemption and security through the love of my Father. He declares that He is my safe place.

He alone is my safe place; His wrap-around presence always protects me. For He is my champion defender; there’s no risk of failure with God. So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me? (Psalm 62:2 TPT)

Knowing God’s wrap-around presence protects me allows me to rest in the comfort of His arms. I pray you find Him as your safe place to land, too.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Today as you reflect on who or what is your safe place, pray the words of Psalm 23 as your promise from God to be your safe place. Here’s the beginning to get you started. Click HERE to read the whole psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,  he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)

May you feel comfort and peace as you discover your own safe place to land.

PRAYER  Father God – Today I am reminded that you will always be my safe place to land. When life becomes overwhelming, You gently whisper “come home” because it’s the only answer that makes sense. Your willingness to guide me and comfort me leads me closer to You. Your arms are the safest place of all. I praise and thank You, God. Amen.

 

You can connect with Mary Geisen in the following places:

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Peace, I Leave With You

By MARY GEISEN

It doesn’t happen this way often. A whispered thought that seems to wake me up. Several reminders of the same words throughout the day. The familiar tug that somehow these words were meant for me. On this day, the words grabbed me and I was determined to find out why.

Peace” was my first thought as I woke up. This expanded into “Peace, I leave with you” as I scrolled through my Bible app. Right in front of me, in plain letters, were the same words as the verse of the day.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV)

I began to mentally reflect on all that was currently going on in my life. Did I need peace? Was there a deep-seated level of anxiety that I wasn’t aware of? Why did the word “peace” continue to break through my thoughts?

I still don’t have the answers to all of my questions. What I do know is that God desires for you and me to feel His perfect peace. I have several family members and close friends who are experiencing high anxiety in their lives due to job situations, sick family members and friends, and trying to provide for their families. Even if the words from John 14 are not specifically for me, they are words that I can pray over those who are undergoing challenges that seem beyond what they can handle.

The best part is the promise God imparts with these words. God’s peace is beyond our understanding but is there for us to receive it. I easily recognize the strain on the faces of my family and friends, but fail to see that the peace of God is His gift in my times of trouble. Peace is yours to have as you face challenges in your own life.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT As you begin this new week, let the promise of peace enter your thoughts and prayers. Spend time reminding yourself that God’s promises are true and just. Here are two more verses to pray as you seek peace for yourself or others. God’s promise of peace is for everyone.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

 

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

I am praying for peace for my family members and friends that face struggles that feel beyond them. Will you join me in praying for your own peace? I am honored to pray for you in this journey, too. Drop a prayer request in the comments.

PRAYER Father God – I stand before you now believing that your peace is one that surpasses all understanding but is the exact thing I need during times of difficulties. I ask that you cover my friends and family with the gift of your peace as they seek answers to questions that only you know. Thank you for providing what I need to not only pray for others but to aid me in my own time of need. You are a gracious and thoughtful God. I love and praise you. Amen.

 

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Unanswered Prayer

By MARY GEISEN

I’m a podcast junkie. I listen while I’m in the car or out walking, and find satisfaction in learning new ideas or remembering things I already know. As I was listening to Annie Downs’ podcast, That Sounds Fun, her guest said these words: “I didn’t get the prayer I wanted, but I got the presence I needed.” I stopped immediately to write down those words. The words affected me to the point that I wanted to explore the times in my own life where I prayed and received an answer that was not the one I was hoping for.

I mentally began to tick off the moments of unanswered prayer and times the answer was not what I had prayed for–losing my parents, a son going through a divorce, kids living in another state, and going through my own divorce. I felt justified in silently saying, “See all the times I prayed and you didn’t come through God.” Let me tell you right now, that is not a good place to leave things with God. His answer, whether different or the same as our heart’s desire, is still good. The bottom line in the space of unanswered prayer is that God is still there. His presence is guaranteed.

The first six months of 2019 have been a time of learning some hard lessons. God led me on a journey to see that where I was, how I got there, and the place He wanted to take me were dependent on Him. All of the pushing and shoving I did to move into independence ended up backfiring. I learned again that all things are possible with God, not without. Instead of leaning in and relying on the people around me, I isolated myself and believed I was better off figuring it out on my own.

When I get stuck in my own head and thoughts, I lose sight of the truth of how God sees me. I forgot that His plans are always better than what I imagine. I am grateful that God did not leave me stuck inside my own thoughts and beliefs. Spending five minutes a day in silence with God opened up my heart enough to let God’s truth begin to seep in. That small window of time provided a segway for God to enter. His presence became an answer to prayers.

Learning that prayers sometimes go unanswered led me to understand that each moment in prayer opens the door for God’s presence. Even though I pray for specific outcomes, God still shows up and His presence is all I need. In the end, that is answered prayer. God loves nothing more than to spend time with us, and when we enter into prayer, we are doing exactly that.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  I don’t have all the answers as to why prayers sometimes get answered and other times they don’t. My heart is to always pray the best for my kids, for instance.  I never thought my son would go get divorced after a year and a half of marriage, but he did. Now, I wonder what happens if instead of asking for outcome, I instead pray for redemption and restoration in all, whether if it is for my kids, a job, a family member or something else.  How would that impact the outcome of my prayers?

Take some time this week in prayer to explore the idea of focusing on redemption versus outcome. Use the time to just be with God–no agenda, no specified outcome, just seeking His presence. God honors the time you spend with Him and loves that you invited Him to be with you.  Consider writing down what you learn or feel during that time, and then take a few minutes at the end of the week to read through what you journaled. Is there a pattern emerging? How do you feel about time with God with no specific agenda? Does the presence of God feel like answered prayer?

I am a different person when I invite God into my day. I am learning that His presence is what I need and it fills the space of what I feel is lacking.  I bet you will, too.

PRAYER  Heavenly Father – You are exactly who You say you are. I stand in this place of not always inviting You to be present in my every day and I ask that You forgive me when I push my agenda on You. You tell me there is nothing You won’t and cannot do for me and for that I am so grateful. Let me see You for the love and grace You extend and the hope You use to fill my soul. Let that be enough as I wake up each morning and invite You to join me throughout the day. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

You can connect with Mary Geisen in the following places:

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