The other day I told my husband, “I feel like God is making me lie down in green pastures but I just want to get up and mow it.”
Restless can affect us all, and if you’re at home indefinitely, it can catch you off guard in the most random moments. It doesn't matter if you're working full time, overwhelmed with virtual learning or trying to re-enter a new world now that the kids are back in school when your life is completely different.
We don't have to be idle to be restless. In fact, busyness doesn’t address restlessness, it only distracts us from it.
The metaphor of my desire to mow the green pastures is founded in Psalm 23. Here it is in its entirety:
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.
Although many of us don’t feel like “green pastures” is an appropriate description of our season, I think it is spiritually. He’s taken all of the things away that filled the gaps. Now, we sit....restless.
What if His purpose in this is to refresh our souls?
If we study this, we can see the purpose in why God has us in this season. First, He’s reminding us that He is the shepherd, the one who plans the course and leads us through it. As a result of His care and plan, we lack nothing, because He won’t lead us anywhere He won’t equip us to go, even in resting.
The word “makes” always sticks out for me. He makes us lie down. If left to our own ambition and desires, we are a people more prone to achieve than to rest because there’s little identity in rest and a lot of fulfillment in achieving. But we end up wearing ourselves out.
So here’s our choice. We can allow the quiet waters to refresh our souls, or we can be irritated and impatient while we’re made to look at them. What if we can look at exactly what God is giving us in this season? Despite inconvenience or hardship, if we dig under all of that, what if there are quiet waters that we can allow to refresh our souls?
God guides us along the right paths. Why? For His names sake, not ours. When we walk through the darkest valleys we don’t have to fear, because we’ve walked with Him for a long time and He’s always been faithful, even when we doubt. Our shepherd is fully aware of our hardship, and keeps talking to us to follow him, trust him, and believe he's bringing us through.
It reminds me of the new song “Evidence” by Josh Baldwin where he sings:
“All throughout my history your faithfulness has walked beside me. The winter storms made way for Spring in every season. From where I'm standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life, all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life, all over my life.”
Maybe Josh is standing beside the still waters reflecting over the journey, or when God used His staff to bring him back into his protective care. I don’t know, but I do know we can take comfort in the shepherd’s rod and staff like this scripture says. The staff was a tool he used to catch the sheep who were wandering into dangerous territory and bring them back into His protective care and on the right path. The rod was used to fight off predators - I can see comfort in those too.
It’s tempting to remain restless in a season where he forces us to lie down, to rest, against our wills. But rest assured (no pun intended), He’s planned the route in advance, and will protect, provide, and equip us with each and every step until we get there.
If you’re restless today, tell God you are. Ask Him to help you relax while He forces you to lie down.