Today, we kick off a brand new series titled Pull Up a Chair and Rest Awhile.
This series hits home for me because I need to rest awhile. In fact, this week, I am on vacation.
In our crazy busy world, rest seems as elusive as a unicorn. We want to rest, but do we want to put in the work to enjoy rest?
I want you to ponder this question,
Can you disconnect from the busyness of life and rest awhile?
I hope so. Often times “vacation” allows us the time to do all things we put off during the week like doctor’s appointments, errands, and the like…but is that rest?
Rest. It seems like a fading memory these days, but we get a glimpse into the beauty of what God intended for us every so often.
You may be familiar with Psalm 23. It provides comfort for the grieving, hope for the hopeless, strength for the weary, and perspective for the seeker.
The psalmist, David, was a shepherd long before he became Israel’s king. The prophet Samuel shares his anointing of the young man, but David would not assume the throne for nearly two decades.
King Saul chased David all over the wilderness, valleys, and hills, trying to kill his successor to the throne until he was killed in battle.
David’s words found in Psalm 23 reflect an intimacy with his Heavenly Father that goes beyond the casual relationship. He calls the Lord, His shepherd.
Since David’s background was in shepherding, he understood the metaphor of the Shepherd. He understood it was the shepherd's role to care and protect for the flock, just like our Heavenly Father cares and protects us.
Psalm 23 is an invitation to rest awhile from the burdens of life, the troubles of today, and to abide in His love.
David says in Psalm 23:1,
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
I can imagine David sitting under a tree and penning the words of Psalm 23. He starts out calling God, His shepherd.
His shepherd – this is deeply personal – he recognizes that he is in God’s flock. David knows His shepherd’s voice, just as we know our parent's voices.
This little detail of knowing the Shepherd’s voice means he can hear it, understand it, and listen for it.
This is true for us today, as well. Jesus says in John 10:11,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost. He also would leave the 99 to search for the one who is lost, referencing we are His sheep.
The last part of verse one – I don’t need a thing – implies David has all that he needs for the moment or the particular time, not necessarily all that he wants.
How many times have we asked God for what we want versus what we need?
The Shepherd invites us to sit and rest awhile. Our lives and our souls were never meant to be as busy as they are today.
We rarely pause to drink in the moments of reflection and peace, and we rationalize our busyness.
I do it all the time. Someone asks you how you are, and you reply, “I am busy.” When was the last time you took a walk and didn’t listen to anything?
The silence is deafening, isn’t it? Do we stop to ask ourselves why we find it hard to rest?
Rest looks different for each one of us. For some, it’s taking a walk, running a few miles, reading a book, writing, or just taking a nap.
In Psalm 23:2, David writes,
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. (MSG – emphasis added)
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (NLT – emphasis added)
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. (NASB – emphasis added)
Once again, the Shepherd invites us or rather directs us to rest.
Let’s take a closer look at the three versions I just shared:
- In the Message translation, it reads, “You have bedded me down…”
- In the New Living Translation, it reads, “He lets me rest in…”
- In the New American Standard Bible translation, it reads, “He makes me lie down…”
It doesn’t seem like a request, but rather a command (a good command) to rest. The Lord knows that we cannot push, and push, and push without repercussions.
At some point, we will fall down from exhaustion, or worse yet, our bodies and mind will break down.
He guides us to an area where we can rest, restore, heal, and rejuvenate. We need it now as much as David needed it then.
The imagery of lush meadows and quiet streams was the perfect metaphor for the time.
David knew that sheep needed good grazing land and cool, quiet streams to drink from. If the water was moving too quickly, they ran the risk of getting swept in the stream, and if the land were too barren, there wouldn’t be enough sustenance for the sheep.
Just like the sheep need food and water from the lush meadows and quiet streams, we need God’s Word and time in communion with Him.
I would like you to be honest with yourself for a moment. You don’t have to tell anyone your answer – when was the last time you sat for a while and chatted with God?
Each of us must answer that question because it guides us to understanding how and why we need rest.
Rest is restorative.
Rest allows us to dream, connect complex ideas, and prepare us for the next day.
So…how do we find rest in our busy lives?
Going from 60 to 0 is equally as difficult as going from 0 to 60. Once our lives are in full acceleration, we can’t just stomp on the brakes and rest. We need to ease ourselves into it.
It’s about changing our habits and developing new ones. Here are a few things you can experiment with this week:
- Start a journaling habit – take five minutes to write down your thoughts at the end of the day. The Day One app is great for this type of activity, or using a simple notebook will do the trick.
- A One Day Digital Fast Per Week – carve out one day a week to disconnect from social media, your devices, work and replace it with a relaxing activity or a fun outing with the family.
- Start a Bible Reading Habit – getting fed from God’s Word starts with opening the Bible (physical or an app) and listening for what God is laying on your heart. Start with Psalm 23 and read through it a few times.
To rest, we need to pursue it actively. We cannot begin to restore our minds or body until we consciously choose to make it a priority.
Believe me, it is easier to say it than to do it, but that’s what I am trying to do as well. So…the invitation from the Heavenly Father is there… will you pull up a chair and rest awhile?
I hope you will.
Lord, thank you for the day you have set before me. Thank you for seeking after me, and thank you for being my shepherd. Please help me to rest in you. Please help me to find time to get away and take a few moments. Please calm my spirit, and help me release my fears and anxiety to you. Thank you for leading me to still waters and green pastures. Please restore my soul today, so I can experience the rest you have for me. Amen.
- Dangerous Prayers – Craig Groeschel
- Take the Day Off – Robert Morris
- Making Time for Rest Bible Plan
- Beside the Still Waters – Encouragement from Psalm 23 (message) – Dave Anthold