A few years ago my small group at church studied Max Lucado’s Traveling Light. It breaks down the promise from the twenty-third Psalm, the popular scripture in the Bible mostly associated with funerals that starts with “The Lord is my shepherd.” I am learning that this story God unfolds is not associated with sadness, but in the joy God promises and the burdens He wants to bear for us.
Here’s a little backstory…
When you think of a shepherd, you think of sheep, right? Can’t sleep, count sheep. Sheep shall safely graze. But, here’s something interesting Max discusses in the book, “for sheep to sleep, everything must be just right. No predators. No tension in the flock. No bugs in the air. No hunger in the belly. Everything has to be just so. Unfortunately, sheep cannot find safe pasture, nor can they spray insecticide, deal with the frictions, or find food. They need help. They need a shepherd to lead them and help them ‘lie down in green pastures.’ Without a shepherd they can’t rest. Without a shepherd, neither can we.
Max further points to the Ten Commandments. First, did you know what commandment in which God tells us to rest? It’s the fourth commandment. Did you also know it’s the longest commandment? “God needed only five English words to condemn adultery and four to denounce thievery and murder. But, when it comes to the topic of rest, one sentence would not suffice.” Six days you will labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. You shall do no work. Rest comes on the seventh day.
Okay, so I bring all this to you because this is the time of year when we need to find it within ourselves for that last surge of energy to get through final exams, year-end teacher gifts, planning a graduation celebration, volunteering for field day or school parties, the solutions for what’s for dinner, I’m hungry, what can I have for a snack, I need a different color binder, you signed up to bring snacks for soccer tonight, the teacher needs you to call her, did you sign that form, have you mailed the invitations, did you pick out my photo proofs, did you pick up my dry cleaning, did you proof read my speech, and so on…
Take a moment. Maybe it’s not actually on Sunday. Times have changed and Sunday may have to be a day of work for some. We go shopping on Sunday (remember Blue Laws where nothing was open on Sunday). But, imagine the shepherd and how delighted he would be to see his flock resting in an open field without a care just one day, or a few half days, or maybe just an hour.
On Sunday, I was sitting on the patio enjoying this mild Texas breeze. I am always moved to be thankful when I am outside. I looked over at my latest issue of Life:Beautiful magazine and the front cover stared back at me:
“In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. God’s message is plain: If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.”
Rest doesn’t have to be in the literal sense — it could be taking the time to read, watch your favorite television program, play a round of golf, sipping coffee at Starbucks or maybe it is a literal two hour honest to goodness nap. But, during whatever time you can set aside for just you, God would delight in your acknowledgement that He moved you to just be. “His pasture is His gift to us.” How can you repay Him?