I was in the middle of a lush field. Green grass, gentle breeze, a quiet stream. For miles all I could see was the serene nature of the beautiful place where I stood.
In spite of the calming atmosphere, I still could not bring myself to lie down. While everything in me wanted to rest, needed to rest, I was unable to embrace this place of peace.
As I was meditating on Psalm 23, this was the image that I received concerning the state of my soul. While everything in me desires to be a rested person, there is an obstacle that blocks me from living in a Sabbath mindset each day.
This picture of my internal unrest brought me to ask the Lord:
“What is keeping me from lying down in the green pastures?”
In response to this question, I looked at the characteristics of both the Shepherd and the sheep, as they are both well described in this Psalm.
Role of the Shepherd
While there are many attributes of the Shepherd, the following stand out to me:
- Verse 1: The Shepherd provides.
- Verse 2: The Shepherd allows us to lie down (i.e. rest).
- Verse 2: The Shepherd leads.
- Verse 4: The Shepherd protects.
Essentially, the Shepherd takes care of the sheep. Therefore, the Shepherd is the one who calls out to the sheep if there is danger.
So what is the lie I was believing?
I can’t trust that the Shepherd will call. I can’t trust His voice.
Role of the Sheep
If Jesus is our Shepherd, then we are His sheep. So, as a sheep, how am I to respond to Him? In Psalm 23, I see several key responsibilities:
- Verse 1: I am to be content.
- Verse 2: I am to rest.
- Verse 2: I am to be led by the Shepherd.
In thinking about my responsibility as a sheep, I am reminded of John 10 when Jesus says:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (ESV)
This passage reveals another lie that I have been believing:
I can’t hear the voice of the Shepherd clearly enough to avoid catastrophe.
When I think about times in my life when I did not listen to the voice of the Shepherd, that is when things have not gone so well. It was not that the Shepherd failed to call; it was that I did not listen.
Response to the Shepherd
Once these deceptions were made clear to me, I confessed this and accepted the following truths from God:
- He is a kind Shepherd who calls out when there is danger.
- I can hear His voice.
I am convinced that God is calling His people to a rested life. Not just one day a week or on vacation. No, He is calling us to an attitude of rest, a Sabbath mindset, at all times.
What keeps you from a rested life? What obstacles keep you from heeding the voice of the Shepherd?