After There’s Nothing Left: Deterrents to Soul Rest

bricksIt will come as no surprise that there are deterrents to soul rest. Deterrents— work, people distractions, hindrances, impediments, problems, complications, barriers, and hurdles— all of which must be addressed if you are determined to enter a time of soul rest. No one is more responsible to provide for your soul rest than you; no one will push you into it; no one can make you want it. Albeit, they might point out to you that you are desperately in need it, it is still up to you to carve out the time and space to make it happen.

You may face seemingly insurmountable obstacles that will call your attention elsewhere; good, meaningful, productive things. But they are not what you should be doing if your soul is in need of rebuilding and refreshment.

Furthermore, do not discount the spiritual realm of restraints to your soul rest. There is a constant background war going on for the right to destroy your soul and drag you into hell to serve as an amusement for true evil. And you do not have to wait for the afterlife— it can happen just as easily in this life. You cannot stop feeding your soul, stop caring for it, let it become overwhelmed, exhausted, and depleted. You will be surprised at just how simple it is to slip into this darkness.

Our Lord God reminds us in I Peter 5:8 to—

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (NASV)

Do not disregard the possibility that you have a target on your back with our adversary’s arrows are ready to release.

Soul Rest is imperative for anyone seeking to make a difference in western society or in the troubled emerging nations of this planet. For it is the foundation of maintaining a healthy, balanced, realistic and wholistic perspective on our individual role in the work of Christ among the human race. One of our adversary’s most effective maneuvers is to wear us down through meaningful service to those around us, especially within church walls. Our job is to be wise enough to see when enough is enough. You and I are quite expendable in the grand scheme of things. Soul rest extends that expendability just a little longer.

Know your place.

Honor God, honor people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— Soul Reflection part 6  

After There’s Nothing Left: resting your mind, body, & emotions

lonely-feeling-wait-tranquility-royalty-free-thumbnailAspects of Rest— (mind, body, physical, emotional, a person in community)

How do you rest your mind? How do you rest your body? What about your emotions, your sense of individuality, and your social relationships? Let’s look at these various aspects of Rest individually—

  1. RESTING YOUR MIND.Resting your mind does NOT mean you stop thinking! God forbid! Unless, of course, that is all you do, 24/7. Resting your mind may involve reading in a genre totally different from your normal sustenance. Try a science magazine. Racial justice, or political speculation? Switch to fiction, fantasy, or even a sports magazine. While we’re at it…, obsessed with sports? Take a breath…, w-a-l-k a-w-a-y! (This may require medicinal, medical, or mental assistance.)  Delving into an area of thought totally foreign to your field of interest can free your mind to make connections you might otherwise miss. Tunnel-vision will  creep into all our ways, given enough time.

There is a field of study known as Synectics. Ever hear of it? It is the application of the principles of one field of study to the problems faced in another field of study. Getting outside your box, resting your mind, may be just the thing the doctor ordered. Most of us never grow inside our own boxes; we just think we do. To have our field-of-focus sharpened it is absolutely necessary to be a part of something of a totally divergent character. Like bridge design & ocean surfing, or homemaking and marksmanship.

  1. RESTING YOUR BODY. Ceasing all exercise is not the answer. Curtailing, moderating, working on another body part, etc., are much preferable to becoming a couch potato(e). Besides, any sudden STOP in exercise can have serious consequences for your overall health. For some of us, exercise is what keeps us going, gives us stamina, makes us strong. It is an intrinsic part of our everyday routine. We would feel sluggish without it. But for others, exercising can feel like a hundred pound albatross draped around our neck, dragging us to exhaustion. For this latter person, starting an exercise program might be the way to rest their body. Lack of exercise is not rest; nor is it sloth. We do not rest our bodies by stopping. We rest our bodies by balancing feeding, what we put into it, with exertion, what we ask of it. But I will never discount the value of just lying on some tropical beach in the Caribbean waiting for that pineapple drink thing with the umbrella in it. Just don’t lie there too long.
  2. RESTING YOUR EMOTIONS. Resting the emotions is simpler for some of us than for others. Some of us barely allow our emotions near the surface of our daily lives; thus, forcing them deeper within. They still churn away, to be sure: we may be aware of it— we may not. Some of us do not want to be in touch with our emotions. Too unruly; easier to merely retain them on the surface and maintain our inner composure. But that can only take you so far. In my work as a counselor I have witnessed those moments when deep emotions have been exposed for the first time: amazement, anger, elation, Ah-ha!, rage, sorrow, collapse, restoration…, all come to expression in one form or another to connect a person’s inner world with their outer world. People leave my office with a new sense of resolution about them. Not that everything is, in fact, resolved; but it has turned a corner. I love corners.

Resting your emotions involves giving up resentments, past wounds, and that inner tumult that wracks your heart on a regular basis. To a quite serious degree, if you are to rest your soul, you must bring some degree of resolution to those things that churn & turn within. In the Bible, God admonishes us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)  So, do what you can; but be advised that some of the resolution you seek may never come. Then, you must learn to live with it. That is the stark reality.

  1. RESTING YOUR PERSON IN CONTEXT. All of us live in a context; that is, we have a rubric of relationships that we classify in various categories— home, family, work associates, “buddies,” girlfriends, fellow sports enthusiasts, computer nerd groups, gamers, fellow Christians, etc.  We do this to manage our relationships, to keep them straight…, and to keep them separate.

There are also some people in our life who fit into these quite extreme categories.

  1. Truly Special People. These people are always there for us. OR, They have influenced us is significant ways. We need them in our lives; and we most definitely want them there.
  2. Quite Exasperating People.  These are people who want you to always be there for them. You are not important— they are. Given the opportunity, they will drain you of every ounce of your energy…, and then they will ask for more. Unless they are paying you, avoid this lot! You have neither time nor enough strength for them.

[For a more exhaustive delineation I refer you to Gordon MacDonald’s Restoring Your Spiritual Passion. It’s not easy to find.]

      Resting your Person-in-context involves a separation of yourself from some, if not all, relational communities for a time of aloneness. We ALL are so over-contexted in this hyperventilated life-pace we try to maintain.  Be still…, remember?

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Solutions— part 4, more Unpacking Soul Rest.

After There’s Nothing Left: Soul Rest – Pt 1

rest chairMy soul needs rest. It is not weary from being wounded; from those arrows it merely feels the inflicted pain and bears healing scars that eventually fade away. No, my soul needs rest from constantly putting out while not taking in enough. To be sure I am to blame for this imbalance: it is every true Christian’s task to provide soul sustenance for their own life-walk and personal growth. But I have this tendency to run ahead of myself. Thus, the need for soul rest.

Three places where I find my soul rests are at a Lakehouse on Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, on top of Pikes Peak (14,115’), and at Jenny Lake, in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. In Wyoming I breathe easier; my heart-beat slows. On Pikes Peak, near our home in Colorado, I am alone with God. I am invigorated! In New Hampshire I sit on the lake-dock and watch ducks land, studying the intricacies within the ripples of the water as the wind blows across its surface.

I need to get to these places more often.

Your soul probably needs rest as well. The hectic pace of our lives, whether urban or rural, has grown much more frantic since the industrial revolution of the late 19th century— more so in these early decades of the 21st century. Much of the machinery and technology designed to make our lives easier has not made them simpler. We are a more complex species today than when we entered the 20th century. There will be, to be sure, more discoveries and technological inventions in the future that will again make our lives “easier.” But will we have any more time to spend with friends, family, or even God? Will we be able to take the time we need to provide the kind of rest our souls will need to stand up to the challenges of this new cultural shift?

Defining Soul Rest

      Before you jump to your feet and yell, “It’s simple! You just need to stop! Get alone and rest. Your soul will follow suit.”  allow me to describe some of the factors you might want to consider.

  • Is soul rest for an Introvert the same as it would be for an Extrovert?
  • Is soul rest easier for a Type A (organized, controlled) or a Type B (more relaxed, flexible) person? And what about a Type C person (combination)?
  • How do you know if you are genuinely resting or merely following someone else’s formula? (A Spiritual Director’s prescription.)
  • How long does it take to get to soul rest?
  • When will you know you have had enough?

Hopefully, these peripheral considerations have demolished any simplistic view of soul rest you may have held. Finding rest for your soul is no simple matter. And these peripheral considerations become more central to our definition than is immediately apparent. Your personality and temperament have more to do with your soul than you might imagine.

Returning to the task at hand, defining soul restWell, at least MY Definition

            Soul Rest 1) the complete relaxation of the soul; resulting in the cessation of struggle and conflict within; 2) a coming apart from daily activities to a quiet place for reflection, refreshment, and rest; 3) any activity which provides one’s soul with a release from this world’s worries and cares— any activity that first rests one’s soul, then enlivens it.

      A definition such as this leaves considerable open-endedness to the mind and much to be desired. Let’s unpack it. Read on.

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,
Gary
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Solutions— part 2, Unpacking Soul Rest.

Falling Behind Before Fall

6086519585_59a875090b_bSit down. Breathe. Now breathe again. Two weeks from now is LABOR DAY WEEKEND. What?!? You forgot to get in your summer vacation? Oh, you’re on it now. So you’ll be all rested for the back to school bunch. Getting ready to head off to college with your brand new $1600 laptop, buying new clothes and school supplies for your kindergartner [They total over $125 this year], and wondering if your air conditioners should be put away just yet, or in November…, maybe never.

Conclusion: you’re already falling behind.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that There is more to life than increasing its speed. But every Fall in Western civilization that is all we seem to do; increase our pace of life to the breaking point. I’ve wondered why someone hasn’t yet engraved their tombstone with I didn’t finish everything.

Given the present pace of culture I’m not sure it is possible for us to finish everything. We have to pick and choose. What is critical? Next, what is important? Then, what is broken that absolutely demands our attention? NOW! Move to Critical list.

If you are married there is always the question of priority for you family. Are they? Will you interrupt your work load to spend time with your wife, your husband, your kids who desperately want your love and time?

In other words, if you don’t want to fall behind as we enter this Fall, STOP ADDING SO MUCH TO YOUR SCHEDULE. Wait…, is it jammed full already? Hummm. Let me think. CUT THINGS. Unless, of course, you’ve made yourself indispensable to every commitment in your life. Let other people fill in for you. How else will they be able to make the same mistakes you did, and learn from them?!?

You need to make a difference on this planet in the time God has given you to be here. You will be less effective if you are constantly worn down and cranky. So…, STOP now. Reassess, before you are so over-committed you don’t even have the time to do that.

For what it’s worth,
  Gary

I like my closet

Some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. We’ve all been there. The pressures of life weigh in on us so heavily that we lose the strength to face another day. This is especially true around the holidays— gifts to be bought and wrapped, meals to be prepared for the imminent arrival of guests & family. Added demands upon our already frantic lives.

Some of us, yea verily even extroverts, oft seek sanctuary in our closet, whether figuratively or literally. We retreat to a place of momentary safety, a hiding place, where no one can find us. We seek silence, solitude, serenity— commodities sorely lacking in our present pace of life. [Buddhism has a lot to teach us on this subject.] Large companies are scheduling team-building retreats for their managers and department heads; Christians have been going on spiritual retreats for years; Muslims fulfill one of their Five Pillars by making at least one journey to Mecca during their life-time.

There are at least two kinds of closets. The first kind is within us, holding things private, things which are best kept to ourselves. The other one holds us. It is a place for us to gain perspective and strength, to find solace for our soul. It may be a literal closet, or a place of safety—a friend’s home, a favorite bar, a winter hike through snow, a time of reflection, a rich conversation with a confidant over a wee dram of Glenmorangie. [Note: a roaring fire often aids in melting our resistance to search within.]

So as our lives continue to accelerate, make sure you go into your closet often, to your place of escape, to remind yourself who you really are. To be properly equipped to grapple with the daily barrage of activity and information that assaults us, we all need those times of retreat, wherein our focus must be on refurbishing our spirit, building our character, and finding rest for our soul. And may God bless and honor those who have created a closet for me. I’m ready to go in…, how about you?

Closing the door now,

Gary

…of bed-boards and springboards

Matanya

At this moment I am sitting by my mother’s side as she lies on a bed dying. She always preferred her bed to be on the firmer side. Not too much so, but sufficiently so. Bed-boards always make a soft bed so much more comfortable. She lies on such a bed at this moment. Not that it matters to her that much. She is in pain, breathing with some degree of difficulty.

She is leaving us.

Yet as she lies in this bed, she is also taking her first steps onto a springboard. This will be her launching step into a world filled with glory, golden light, and the exuberance of a new life, peace, and rest for a weary traveler. Each of us, unquestionably, will come to this point. The only questions are when, where, and how?  Will it be gentle, rough? Drawn out, or quick? Surrounded by friends & family; or alone?

Though we may wish it, this is not the case for everyone. The springboard does not always launch to a place of celebration—rather, it shatters, plunging its load into an abyss of captivity. It is a dark place where people can avoid each other; a place where they will finally get what they truly want—a world of total independence, with no responsibility to care for others. It is a world devoid of God, His love, and His perimeters of protection set in motion on this planet to guard its inhabitants from self-destruction. In this underworld those safe-guards do not exist.

It is now late into the night. I sit here alone with my mother…, waiting for her to take that initial leap from a springboard, propelling her into that new, exhilarating, vibrant life. For that has been her life’s desire, “to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

For some of my friends, my dear close friends, this is not their desire. Their desire is to have all that this world has to give them. And that is what they will receive.

I weep for them.

Sitting here, I am envious that my mother, so much the gracious servant during her time in this realm, will soon get to play and dance and sing in the courtroom of heaven. There’s just the matter of this human shell to discard.

It is true; we all will come to that point of crossing-over. For my mother, it will be from a bed-board to a springboard, to life. When our time comes to step up onto the springboard, what will be our next step? Where will we come down? And what must we do beforehand to prepare?

[On Saturday, January 19th, 2013, at 1:57 p.m., Florence Adelaine Andersen Davis, jumped into the arms of our heavenly Father; there to celebrate His glory forever. She was 97 years old, by our reckoning. I am soooooo jealous.]

Mom- 27 Dec 2012

Following in the family footsteps,

Gary

sunday morning pancakes

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, It’s no wonder so few people go to church. With our weekday jam-packed schedules, Saturdays running kids around to sports practices, home repair, grocery shopping, lawn (or snow) maintenance, finishing up some office work (shame on you), and, if we’re lucky, a college ball game thrown in; then maybe a dinner out with friends?!? Yeah, Sunday morning pancakes sound really good— leisurely, with blueberries, recently tapped AA grade New England Maple syrup, with fresh squeezed orange juice, Columbian Supremo coffee, Canadian bacon…, on the deck, or around the fire place. Either way it carries us to a time of refreshment and rest; whether with friends or family, Sunday mornings draws us into a place of peace & restoration. Now if churches would only serve pancakes… . O, never mind.

We live a pace of life that allows for few periods of rest, few times for revival for our bodies, of refreshment for our souls. Weekends often leave us exhausted for another week of work or family responsibilities. Vacations find us so tired from work that we need a minimum of 2 weeks off just to detach from the speed of our daily lives. The probability of sequential mini-breakdowns increases with each passing year. And high blood-pressure…, you probably already have it.

Ergo, we return to Sunday morning pancakes. Sunday morning is probably the only time in your week that you have to STOP and feed your spirit. What I’m talking about is pancakes! Heaps of ‘em! With friends. Sharing the joys and woes of the previous week. (Pass the Maple Syrup again, please. O, and some more coffee!) And if you find yourself in Jackson Hole, WY, drop into Jedediah’s. You’ll feel right at home as you’re served a breakfast like you’ve never imagined!

The point is simple. Each of us needs to set aside some time during our week when we put off the busyness of life to renew our spirits and restore our souls. Pancakes drenched in whipped cream & smothered with blueberries will go a long way towards renewing our spirits. But to refresh our soul, well, only the God who made us can do that properly. And there is no substitute, just like “genuine maple Syrup.” You need to find a church with a community of fellow (exhausted) travelers, just like you, who need a reminder from God about who you are. Jesus Christ came to redeem sinners.  Like you: like me.

Let the God who made you minister to your body & soul Sunday mornings. Then hit the blueberries & whipped cream.

 

Have a nice week,

Gary