He maketh me lie down in green pastures.~ King David
My shepherd makes me lie down because I don’t want to lie down. I am hell-bent on controlling everyone or thing in my sphere of influence.
Every morning when I go to brush my teeth I notice that the toothpaste tube has been assaulted. I can’t explain to you how distorted and mangled the tube of toothpaste is. It looks as if someone was angry about something—what they had for dinner the night before, the loss of the GNP, the prospect of Donald Trump becoming president, sagging pants on men, someone leaving the lid up on the toilet—I don’t ‘know—but it is all being taken out on the tube of toothpaste with a violence that, quite frankly, scares me.
I have gently mentioned that it doesn’t have to be that way. I have asked that she carefully start from the bottom, and, with gentleness and grace, roll the bottom of the tube upwards towards the opening the way Jesus would do it. It is a much more efficient and sane way of dispensing toothpaste instead of choking the tube as if it were and insolent spouse.
Not a great moment in our marriage. I’ve come to the realization she will probably go to her grave choking the tube of toothpaste like it was a weasel caught stealing her chickens.
We go crazy over that, don’t we? We just gotta control this person, gotta get them to do what I want them to do. We live with the illusion that I can control the people in my life. I can control my job. I can control my money. I can control my health. I can control my circumstances. Then, sooner or later in every life comes the news—at death if not before—no, you are not in control.
Since the Good Shepherd is present—anyplace can be a green pasture where your soul is restored.
A green pasture can show up at an office where everybody else is going crazy, or at a house where there is noise and even conflict, or at a hospital room where your health is gone—because that’s where the shepherd is. And He is in the soul-restoring business.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved. Psalm 127:2
Who gives sleep to the beloved? He does. The Good Shepherd does. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing or a wrong thing to work hard, it just means this idea that the belief that I can control my world is illusory at best and messiah-like at worst.
Your life is a gift, and rest is a gift, and some people have not rested well for a long time.
One of the ways my former church ministered to me as their pastor was to let me have generous blocks of time off in the summer to do the thing that most revitalizes my soul.
Time in the wilderness.
One summer they allowed me to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for 30 days and it was the greatest gifts ever given to me as a minister of the Gospel. It sent a message to me that said, “Pastor, we are as concerned for your soul as you are for ours.”
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Sheep don’t like noisy waters because if they fall in with all that wool and they get saturated, they will drown. So they need to have water that is still. Our lives get so busy, and then I miss life. I drown in noise and the unrest inside me.
Friends gave Lynette and I a few days at a time-share on Vancouver Island, BC. We rode the ferry from Anacortes over to Victoria. It was about an hour and a half long ride. We were leaving Mukilteo to get away to rest and be restored beside the waters of Nanoose Bay. But on the Ferry ride there was a gaggle of kids that were enjoying the ferry ride way too much. They had a nerf ball and were bouncing and tossing it and rolling it around under my feet and laughing and screaming. I felt my #getoffmylawn persona begin to rise up inside of me. I thought surely their parents are unaware of their behavior so I looked around for what looked like might be there parents and sure enough there they were just across the way—watching the little monsters play. And they had smiles on their faces! They were reveling in the play of their children.
Not me. I was battling an internal expectation that my world be the way I want it and it was not happening for me so—up my #getoffmylawn meter went.
About that time a ferry official, complete with uniform, badge and whistle, walked by and sternly told the urchins that they couldn’t throw the ball and run around like they were a bunch of drunk Methodists. Internally I cheered her on—hoping she might taze them into submission—but she didn’t and when she was out of sight the kids went back to bouncing around like Tigger on speed.
So you know what I did? I took a breath and I decided to join the parents in their delight at their kids having fun on the ferry. I smiled and laughed—imagining them as my grandchildren and let that moment fill my heart with conviviality.
I almost missed that moment of restoration the Good Shepherd put in front of me brilliantly disguised as delinquent munchkins.
Instead of trying to control everything in frenetic activity, surrender to Him. Instead of contributing to the cacophony of noise in your world with your fidgeting soul—listen to Him.
He has something to say to you, “There is another way to do life. Do your best and trust me for the outcomes.”
Excellent article; you have an amazing way with words
I remember being the first one on that church council to say yes give him the time off. All pastors should get a month off every year. It gives us time to experience new stories and care for our souls and family. I’ll never forget all the awesome stories you came back with to share with us and getting to see your soul overflowing in joy.