Sometimes You Just Need Rest
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3a, ESV)
You can be honest: Did you actually read today’s key verse, or did your eyes glaze over once you realized it was familiar?
I know I do it. If I have a verse memorized, I don’t tend to read it when I recognize it. My mind automatically goes on airplane mode, thinking, “Oh, I know that. Let’s skip past this part.”
Because my time is so valuable, I can’t even read a verse that I’ve become so obviously numb to, right? Because I’m so busy, I can’t reconnect with a precious scripture that is something I desperately need to hear, right?
And that’s part of the problem: we are too busy. We are always filling our time with things that don’t
matter and prioritizing things that will never satisfy us. We give the one resource that is absolutely finite, our time, to activities and investments that add to our stress and busy nature– even if our intentions are pure; even when our busy schedules are in the name of good goals and aspirations.
And yes, at times, even the ministries, Christian groups, and outlets we are a part of can get in our way.
Because here’s the truth: If we are only serving the Church and glorifying God so that other people can see us, then we are only affording our time to works that are devoid of Christ. If we are constantly pouring out for other people and never taking the time to rest and replenish our souls with Jesus, our source, then we will inevitably run dry and miss the opportunity to maintain relationship with the Father on a personal level.
God created us. He understands us and knows our nature. He knows that we seek to fill time and forfeit our rest. He knows that we tend to put more and more of our energy and our focus into “projects” that we think are edifying to us, when in all reality, they drain us.
That’s why He is the Shepherd. That is why He makes us lie down in green pastures. That’s why He leads us beside still waters.
Notice it doesn’t say He asks us to lie down in green pastures or requests for us to walk beside still waters. No, He makes us. He leads us. He takes us by the hand and says, “Hey, drop your to-do lists and busy work. Take the time to rest. Take time to enjoy me.”
And you know what? Sometimes that’s just what you need. Because after serving other people and getting things done, we become numb to the needs of our own souls. So when God makes us slow down long enough to enjoy Him, He realigns us to where we’re supposed to be. He restores our soul and brings us to a place where we don’t have to strive or want for things that are beyond our control.
This is an important lesson I am learning recently. I like to be busy; I thrive on it. I enjoy projects. I love having something to do. I’m not good at just sitting back and letting others do. I’m not good at declining plans or ideas. And because of that, it takes me longer to realize I’m pouring out from a dry place.
But now, I’m realizing I want less and less to do with projects so that I can have more time with the Shepherd. Maybe it seems lazy, but the time I spend in “green pastures” with Jesus, the more my soul is refreshed and revitalized in my day to day life. The more I rest beside “still waters” with my Savior, the more valuable my actions in ministry are, because they are more focused on Him.
That’s why Megan and I have decided to cut back. It might not seem like it, but Soul Deep takes lots of time, energy, and prayer before we ever make it to your inbox. For months, we’ve considered the pros and cons of going back to just Tuesdays.
I’ll confess, it took us longer than usual because I didn’t want to take a step back. I thought going back to once a week would be letting you all down somehow. But I’m starting to see that if I can allow myself more time with Jesus without worrying about how I’m going to write a new devotion– if I can spend more time studying and in devotion with Him just to know Him better for the sake of my relationship with Him– then the work He’s already given me to complete will gain more value. And I know Megan feels the same.
So here’s my challenge today: re-evaluate. Are your projects glorifying you in the eyes of people, or magnifying God to the benefit of your soul? Is the Shepherd laying His finger on an area of your life and beckoning you to rest from that thing? Is He calling you into green pastures or still waters? Either way, make sure your time is truly prioritizing Him, not just your idea of how He can appear to be glorified to the world.