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Rest and God

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not be in want. And 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. And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.” Psalm 23

How often have you taken children, your own, your grandkids, nieces, or nephews, and they just don’t want to go to sleep? You make them lie down. Some of you might even tie them down. I don’t recommend that. You tuck them in. You tell them a story. You turn off the light, and as you leave their room, the door swings open, and they pop out of their room full of energy.

Rest is supposed to be very good for them, but they don’t want it. So you try to wear them out physically. You run around the house with them, jump on the trampoline in the dark, wrestle with them—all this to get those little monsters what their bodies actually need. And we do this every night because we know the next day will be awful if they do not have rest. God does the same thing with us.

He makes us lie down in green pastures. He forces us at times and allows the circumstances of our lives to lay down, to bring rest.

And he leads me beside quiet waters. Sometimes, life circumstances feel like we’re being robbed of something. But if we see our life circumstances with spiritual eyes, maybe there’s a gift coming in the middle of it.

Our family was supposed to go on a big vacation last year. Unfortunately, our vacation time and money were spent on medical care and recovery. It was almost like God saw how busy and frantic we were and said, “I’m going to make you lie down, and I’m going to bring you along quiet waters.”

I sat with my family without doing anything really. And it turns out, that slow, quiet time was so good for my soul. He refreshes my soul and he guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. See, I could have looked at it in bitterness.

It would have been easy to say, “My wife has surgery. My daughter has surgery. Now, we’re not going to get our vacation. So now I was home. I didn’t go to work. I had (past tense) all this money that I’ve now given to doctors and the hospital. And there’s not even a vacation to look forward to. This is the worst.”

And yet, what my soul needed could not have been satisfied on that vacation. What my soul needed was for God to make me lie down, just like David says, and to be along still, quiet waters.

I love Psalm 23:3 in The Passion Translation. It says, “he opens before me the right path and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness, so I can bring honor to his name.” 

He’s guiding us and leading us, not for our own glory. He gets the glory. God gets the honor. But then, we do get a benefit. Our lives reflect a life of peace and trust in the great Shepherd. God gets the honor, and we get the benefit of all that’s taking place. It doesn’t mean we won’t have hard times. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face difficult things.

I love reading this beautiful passage because it really does impact us. It impacts us to understand, in our humility, that we were once enemies and now we are sons. We once pushed God away, but now we invite him in to be the great Shepherd. And after we’ve invited him in to be the great Shepherd, he sits us down to have a meal with him, to commune with him.

And there’s something beautiful about it.

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Speaker: Carlos Ortiz