Saturday, August 29, 2009
Beside Still Waters
The twenty third Psalm has always been a mainstay of my life. I have been drawn to it time and again over the course of my forty-three years of serving God. There is a simple truth that lies in each verse---a truth that speaks to me in the midst of the severest trial or the most heart wrenching tragedy.
Verse two speaks to my heart today, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.". Green pastures---still waters---a beckoning to rest and trust. The opposite of storm and strife, the place of refreshing, a time of letting go---how we all need this place and time where weariness can disappear and where cares can be laid down. How I need this place today.
It is interesting to note David's choice of words, He MAKETH me...". This leads me to believe that perhaps we are not good at recognizing our own need for letting go of burdens and cares. Is it possible that we tend to think that, if we carry the load just a little further, we will eventually be able to resolve it ourselves? Is it possible that we tend to think of our burden as something we just have to bear and so we try to carry on without realizing God is longing to help us? It is the persistence of our human nature that places God in the position of "making us" lay the burden down and give it to Him. But it is here, in the place where we are made to go, that we really see how God cares for us and desires us to be refreshed and renewed.
Green pastures---just the phrase brings to mind a view of lush grasses, beautiful wild flowers, gentle breezes and shading trees. My grandparents had such a place in the mountains of Kentucky. I would often sit on the front porch of their little cottage home and gaze out upon the beauty of the pasture land before me. Even as a child, I can recall the settling of my spirit as I looked upon the beauty of the view. My grandfather had a huge porch swing and I would just sit and swing looking at all the trees and flowers and the green grass and thinking that no artist could ever paint a picture as beautiful as the one I was seeing. I can recall many times falling asleep in the swing. I was as if the view lulled me to sleep. I wonder if that is how God would like it be with us? Do we dare to believe that God wants us in a place where we can be lulled to rest, even if for a short time, so that we can continue on with renewed strength and vigor?
Let us not forget the still waters. Do you know that sheep will not drink from running water? No matter how thirsty they are, they will not drink from any source where the water is not still. It is as if they are frightened by the rushing of water over the rocks in the river bed. How frightened have we been sometimes by what we are called upon to face and endure in this life? How many times do we call out to God to help us and, at the same time, we cannot see Him as the source of Living Water. Not a dry riverbed, not an empty well, but a source of supply that never runs dry---a constant satisfaction to a life that is barren and dry. This is where He leads us. He leads us to Himself so that we can "with joy...draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3). You see, salvation does not just mean repentance---it also means "deliverance". So, to draw refreshing and strength from God, the source of living water, is to also find deliverance, not necessarily from the burden (although that does happen), but from the weariness of bearing it.
Oh, how we need to be led by the still waters. How we need to lie down for a while in the green pastures. The next verse of this lovely Psalm tells us that, after this rest, He restores our soul. Oh! how we need this lovely repose today. How we need the rest of the green pastures of God's spirit. How we need the still waters for refreshing and restoring.
May today bring to each of you a time of rest---a time of peace---a few moments where you can lay down the load and rest yourselves in Him. The beauty of the old song comes to mind:
"Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I'll go with Him, with Him,
All the way."
Today may He lead you, may He rest you, may He refresh you so that you, too, may go all the way. He restores my soul in pastures green and beside waters still. You come, too.