“I not hungry and I not tired!” our three-year-old shouted across the dinner table.
Clearly, he needed food and bed. And fast!
Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd… He makes me lie down in green pastures…” In a desert full of thorns and dirt, this sheep is munching luxurious green grass. Yet he must be forced to lie down and rest. Silly sheep.
Just like my little guy. All too often, just like me.
God says, “Be still“, and I say, “But I’ll feel better when I finish this.”
He says, “Stop striving.” I say, “Must. Work. Faster.”
The thing I am frantic to do is exactly the opposite of what I need.
This Advent season, we are learning different names of Jesus. Jesus is called shepherd of his people. And my Shepherd will not be fooled. He knows his sheep. He sees through my tantrums.
He knows we need rhythms of rest.
And, unlike too many coaches and leaders, he does not push his sheep to the point of injury. He insists they take a break. Lie down. Lush pastures. Still waters.
And his sheep know his voice. They do as he says.
It takes a certain humility to acknowledge that the world will carry on just fine without me busily doing my thing. It takes an element of faith to believe that stopping is better than constant motion. God will help me do what I need to in the time I have.
When I resist God’s rest, John Starke says I reveal my true shepherd. The project or relationship in which I find meaning, value, peace, security – that is my Shepherd. And when I choose to follow the shepherd of work or status or productivity, I miss out on the refreshing.
Only after the resting does the restoring come.
“He restores my soul.” The Spanish says “me infunde nervas fuerzas.” He infuses me with new strength. Isn’t that what a restored soul is? Infused with new strength and ready to face whatever is coming next?
Isn’t that better than checking one more item off my to-do list?