He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:2, NLT)

Hirtenstab, Schafe

Do you ever just long for rest?

Do you ever wonder why, sometimes when you feel like you really need it, rest does not come?

The verse I’ve quoted is one of the most famous in Psalm 23.  But there’s another famous verse in this chapter, too:

Even when I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me. (v. 4)

Most of us would be content to have lives that mirror verse 2 all the time.  Rest, green meadows, and peaceful streams all sound very appealing to me.

The words even, darkest valley, and not be afraid tell a different story, however.  They speak of a place that is a lot of work, lonely, and frightening.

Psalm 23 presents a balance of the life of those who believe in Christ.  Among other verses, these two tell of two times in a Christian’s life: times of rest and times of testing.

The times of rest are amazing for restoration, healing, and rejuvenation.  But they aren’t really times of growth.  We can be close to God in the meadow and beside the stream–but all too easily, we can be far away, too.  We can forget how much we need Him, or even that He’s brought us here.

The times of testing, on the other hand, are amazing for growth, closeness, and trust.  But they aren’t really times of rest.  We can have peace with God in the darkest valley– but all too easily, we can be troubled, too.  We can forget how much He loves us, or even all the good times He’s given to us already.

God, who is so wise and so loving, gives us times of both: rest and testing.  And the most comforting part is, He knows exactly when each time is needed.  God doesn’t put us through a time of testing when we must have rest . . and He also doesn’t give us rest when we really need a time of testing.

I remember hearing years ago that people caught out in snowstorms can have a very easy time falling asleep.  The cold is very subduing.  If they don’t keep themselves vigilant, they can fall asleep in the middle of a snow pile–and die.

God doesn’t allow the believer to spiritually die.  He will always give us times of testing to keep us awake and alert when we need it.  While these times are not going to be enjoyable, they are going to be critical to our development as Kingdom-dwellers.

But we are just sheep, too, and God knows when to give a time of graceful rest for us.  Some of us need to learn simply to receive His time of rest and not practice worrying about dark valleys that may or may not be coming.

Sheep don’t worry while they’re with their shepherd resting.  Rather, they simply enjoy the grass and stream.  When God gives us time of rest, we should receive them as gifts and thank Him . . and rest!

Do you ever just long for rest?

Me, too.

But remember the times of rest God has already given you and remember that, when you really need it . . He will grant you another.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:2, NLT)

Published in: on March 28, 2014 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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