I Need Rest
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)
I remember my kids never wanting to go to bed at night. As a tired mom, I couldn’t wait to get in the bed. Actually, I still look forward to going to bed. I remember tucking the kids in bed, and before I could get down the stairs, hearing:
“Mom, I’m afraid! Turn on my light.”
“Mom, I’m thirsty.”
“Mom, my stomach hurts.”
It never surprised me they felt better after I would lay with them. I was surprised to learn while studying Psalm 23 that shepherds have a hard time making their sheep lie down. One would wonder what sheep have to worry about? If the shepherd found green pastures, why would he have to make them lie down?
I was reading a book by a shepherd named Phillip Keller, and he shared how easily sheep can be frightened. In his book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, Keller informs us sheep refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear, friction with other sheep, free of pest, or hungry. Wow! Are we talking about sheep or people? The sheep are in green pastures—a perfect place to enjoy each other—and their shepherd provides the perfect place to satisfy their hunger, but fear keeps them from enjoying any of this! Do you see the similarity between sheep and most people?
As I think of all the treasures God has given us through Jesus, I don’t understand why it’s so hard to trust Him? Why do we allow fear to keep us from enjoying God? What are we afraid of? Is the issue that we do not believe God will take care of us? Jesus was very clear when He called Himself The Great Shepherd who takes care of His sheep! So why don’t we trust Him for His provision? The words “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,” are a good reminder that it’s not where we are but in whom we trust that we find rest. We can be in the perfect place, yet never enjoy what God has provided because we believe it’s never enough.
I’ve discovered that as His sheep (child), I’m not capable of understanding how and why God leads me. Even though I may be in green pastures (God’s will), I will never enjoy the green pastures if I don’t trust my shepherd. As I studied the characteristics of sheep and their shepherds, I see why Jesus used their relationship as an example for us to understand Him and ourselves. Check out some of the things Jesus said:
When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” (Matthew 26:31)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
So often when we experience tough times it is obvious how helpless and fearful we feel. Jesus wants us to never forget He is the good shepherd. The shepherd takes care of his sheep. As sheep, we must believe God will provide all we need. The shepherd leads, feeds, and protects. By grace, God gives us His hand of provision, and by faith we open our hand to receive all that God has provided. The same loving God David trusted to lead him is the same loving God we can trust to lead us. We will never enter into God’s rest if we believe we are the shepherd, and it’s up to us to find rest. Resting in God is actively trusting that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. There’s no magic formula in finding rest for my soul. I either trust God, or I don’t!
Matthew 9:36; Matthew 26:31; Mark 6:34; John 10:11; Revelation 7:17