“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” ~Psalm 23
These are the words of Psalm 23, a psalm of David. Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the best-loved psalms and most beloved Bible passages, for it calls us to stop, to breathe, and to rest in the love of God. It calls us to take notice of the quiet beauty of the world around us, and to find comfort and strength in knowing that the Lord Himself is our protector. Its gentle, soothing language almost reads like a lullaby. I think that Psalm 23 captures the essence of a God who cares for us with a love that is incomprehensible and unfathomable in its depth, a love that will follow us all the days of our lives, no matter where we may go or what we may do, whether we succeed or fail.
I’ve been musing on this particular passage for a while now. I am a girl living in a busy, fast-paced society. Lots of things are competing for priority in my life: school, outside activities, friends. I feel a lot of pressure to succeed in school, perform well in my extracurriculars, and fit in with everyone else. I also struggle with OCD-like tendencies, which makes it especially difficult for me to slow down and relax and see things in proportion. As such, I am constantly trying to slow myself down and force myself to take breaks. I am trying to make sure that my life is a healthy balance between work and “me time.” It is important to work hard, but it is equally important to give ourselves rest so that we can relax, recharge, and have fun! We were not created to simply exist. We were created to LIVE, and there is an enormous difference between the two. In order to really LIVE, we have to have balance. And we have to have God.
I was reading Psalm 23 a few days ago, and something struck me that I wanted to share with you all. In the second verse, I noticed that it read specifically, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Not “He encourages me to lie down in green pastures.”
God makes us slow down and rest. Because whenever we spend time with our Heavenly Father, we are resting and being restored by His grace.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~Matthew 11:28
A lot of us – and I know this, because I do it too – tend to shut God out of our lives. With all our other obligations in life, God can seem like just another thing we have to make time for. But we were not created to be machines, going and going and going all day long, from sunup to sundown, every single day. Spending time with God heals us and restores us. Without God in our lives, we are simply existing, dragging ourselves through each monotonous day, numb to the vividness of true living.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:10
God wants us to experience life fully. And the only way we can really live is if we make time for ourselves and for Him. God calls us to slow down, but many of us are simply too busy to take notice. Today I challenge you to listen for God’s call to rest! Today, take some time for yourself and do something you love to help you breathe and find God. For me that would be writing, playing guitar, or reading the Bible. Do whatever helps you de-stress – go for a walk, bake chocolate chip cookies, play an instrument, read, draw, listen to music, play with a pet… It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it helps you to release some of the burden that you have been carrying with you, whatever that burden might have been. You cannot fully embrace the beauty of life if you never allow yourself time to rest and recharge, and shut God out.
Many of us complain that we never have any free time. I think that most of us do have more time than we think we do, but that time is often consumed by mindless activity, such as social media, texting, or surfing the Internet. Technology is a wonderful invention and has greatly improved our lives, having increased convenience and comfort. However, it is easy to get sucked into the world of Facebook and Instagram, or lose oneself mindlessly surfing the Web. It is perhaps too easily accessible, and it drains our free time, time that we could be spending with God or doing things we love. In my free time at school, I used to pull out my laptop and surf the Internet. But I realized that I could be using that precious time in better ways, and I packed my Bible in my backpack. Now, I have changed that time mindlessly surfing the Internet to time spent with my Father, reading and reflecting on His Word.
It is so, so important to give ourselves breaks. At some point, it is important to say “Good enough for now,” set aside whatever we are working on, and forget about it for a while. Spending time with ourselves allows us to breathe, to recharge, to step away from the demands and obligations of daily life and escape. When we allow ourselves into the slow lane, we begin to see God all around us, healing us through His grace and love.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~John Lubbock
Your friend, Olivia