The last few weeks have been filled with emotion, discipleship, difficult conversations, mutual encouragement, precious time with family, correction, challenges, and well, life. Because I was fully engaged in each of these things, I did not recognize my weariness and how much I needed rest. I woke up tired yesterday, longing for a nap before the clock struck 9 am. At noon, when I was making a beeline for the couch, I spotted my Bible. "Come to ME, all you who are weary and need rest," it seemed to call.
I grabbed my Bible, sat down to read, and asked the Lord to point the way.
"Really, Lord? That Psalm is overused. How about something unique?"
"Psalm 23, Michelle. Go."
(I cannot prove it, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Lord sometimes rolls His eyes when I speak!)
Thankfully, I obeyed. And God opened my eyes to something new.
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 force us to lie down? And why in green pastures? Why would a shepherd make his sheep lie down? For the same reason 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. And the faithful Shepherd does the same for His children. He forces us to be still, to lie down, and to rest.
There is little else do to in a green pasture but think, relax, dream, pray, and sleep. Not only does the Lord make us lie down, He makes us do so in a place free from distractions, concerns, demands, or fears.
HE MAKES US lie down.
Because we refuse to do so on our own. We keep going and moving and working and thinking and planning and striving. But what we should do, what we need to do - is BE STILL.
And once we are still, we are able to take in the beauty and quiet that surrounds us and hear the still, quiet voice of the Good Shepherd.
He RESTORES my soul.
We are restored through the quiet and beauty of the green pasture. During our time of rest, we are able to reflect on who God is, His promises, and His love. Before the stillness, we are too distracted to see where He is leading us. We are not able to listen because we surrounded ourselves with noise and cannot hear what He is saying. But in the quiet, our God does not have to yell, for our ears hear Him, and His words and commands are clear.
He LEADS me beside quiet waters.
He GUIDES me in the paths of righteousness.
Notice how the verb changes from a forced action to a willing action.
After we have been forced to be still, savoring the rest we so desperately needed, and remembering the greatness and love of our God, it is then that we are able to rise up and follow where He leads. Willingly. And with JOY.
Where does He take us when we are willing to follow Him?
In the paths of righteousness.
Because He is a Good Shepherd, He does not just point us to this place 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 makes me lie down.
He gives me rest.
He leads me.
He guides me.
He restores my soul.
Our God may not always give us what we want, but He always, always gives us what we need.