The last few weeks have been filled with emotion, loss, discipleship, wonderful conversations, mutual encouragement, precious time with family, correction, challenge, and counseling. And because I was fully engaged in every moment of these things, I did not realize how weary I was. How much I needed rest. Even when the Lord put me in place of stillness with my broken toe, I was still engaged mentally and emotionally with such intensity that true rest - complete rest - did not come.
This morning I awoke weary and worn, longing for a nap before the clock struck 8 am. After the littles went down for their naps, I was in direct route for the couch when I spotted my Bible. "Come to ME, all you who are weary and need rest." The Lord does not command us to take a nap - He asks us to come to Him ... the only life-giving source that satisfies. I obeyed, grabbed my Bible, and sat down to read. I am working through II Samuel, so after finishing two chapters I flipped to the Psalms and asked the Lord to show me where to go. "Psalm 23." "Really, Lord? That is so overused. How about something unique or obscure?" "Psalm 23, Michelle. Go."
And for the first time in my life, I saw something in this Psalm that I have never noticed before: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Why would the Lord MAKE us lie down? Why in green pastures? Why would a shepherd make his sheep lie down? Well, the same reasons we do so with our children ... because they NEED it. They may not think they do, they may not want to, but do we care? Nope. We make them do it. I have never looked at this passage through the eyes of fatigue or heart-weariness, but there it is: the Lord forces us to be still. To lie down. To rest. And the only reason He has to MAKE us do it is because we refuse to do so on our own. We just keep going and moving and working and thinking and planning ... when what we need - is REST.
There is nothing else do to in a green pasture but think, relax, dream, imagine, and pray. Not only does the Lord make us rest, He makes us do it in a place without distractions, without worry, concerns, demands, or fears.
HE MAKES US lie down.
But then ... there is something exciting that follows! Notice how the verb changes from a forced action to a willing action.
He LEADS me beside quiet waters.
He GUIDES me in the paths of righteousness.
After we have been forced to be still ... to hear the still, small voice of the Lord ... and have found the rest we so desperately need ... we are finally ready to follow Him. Willingly. Because we see that what He has to offer is what we need ... what we want. Nothing else can truly satisfy.
Do you see? Once we have been restored to the Lord through the quiet and beauty of the green pasture, remembering who He is and what He promises - it is then that we are able to rise up and follow where He leads. Before the stillness we were too distracted to see where He was leading, or where He was asking us to go. We were not able to listen because we surrounded ourselves with noise and never stopped long enough to hear what He was saying. When we do not 'hear' the voice of the Lord, it is never because He has stopped talking.
It is because we have stopped listening.
And where does He take us when we are willing to follow Him? Beside quiet waters. In the paths of righteousness. And He does not just point us to these places of wonder ... He is right there, guiding and leading us every step of the way. Through the beauty of the mountaintops, and through the darkness of the valleys ... He is always there.
He leads me.
He guides me.
He restores my soul.
What a wonderful Savior! What a compassionate Shepherd. What a loving Father. A Father who does not always give us what we want, but always, always gives us what we need.