Feb 28, 2021 Second Sunday of Lent
This beloved Psalm’s promise of rest and restoration is a lifeline for weary souls. Hear also this word of God as encouragement for our times:
“All of you who are surviving the days of uncertainty and disease, look to my grace, the favor of my presence in a great wilderness time of deprivation and isolation. Just as Moses found favor with me, and I knew him by name and spoke to him face to face as a friend, you my people who are seeking rest will be restored. I will comfort and satisfy you with goodness and restore your weary soul with my faithful presence and steadfast love. Hear my Word, allow my discipline, my Word to guide you on the straight path, to walk again by brooks of water.” The Lord God. (My adaptation from Jeremiah 31, Exodus 33)
Read Psalm 23 again and look at the picture. What do you imagine the path to rest by the waters looks like? Spend a few moments using your imagination to see the Shepherd leading you to rest.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures. What kind of a sheep lies down, or takes a rest in a green pasture? Dallas Willard in Life Without Lack says it’s a sheep that has eaten its fill because if she’s not full, she’ll be eating (working), not lying down. In our spiritual formation vocabulary, lying down in green pastures is defined as rest. We honor God and our human limitations through restful rhythms. (Adele Calhoun)
What do you envision for yourself when you think of lying down in green pastures? Have you noticed physical, emotional, or mental limitations in recent days? Acknowledge those now and voice your thoughts as a prayer.
In this season of Lent I have been in a 24/7 caregiver role for my mother who has been in the hospital and now on hospice at home. We got home from the hospital just as the great Texas Snowmageddon began. It was a lockdown without power and water and my dear husband never rested as he gathered snow for needed water. And when water was restored, there was no rest as we had to put our two homes back in order. My sister came to relieve us and we went to our own home. Finally, we laid down to uninterrupted rest. Rest came only as I both mentally and physically surrendered the responsibility, the tasks, the stress, to lie down.
What do you need to let go of, to surrender, in order to accept the rest of the Shepherd’s green pastures?
He leads me beside the still waters. After days without water, it was great joy when I heard the gurgling from the open tap at 3 am. What happiness to enjoy something so necessary, so sweet when we have been deprived. Water is a daily necessity and gift we take for granted until it is missing. Jesus offers living water to those whose spirits are thirsty for relationship with God. Oh to be led to the place to quench our spiritual thirst. Yes, we must be led by the Spirit to rest. “O Lord take me to your river, walk with me by the sweet brook.”
Can you see Jesus offering you living water as you struggle to fill up your water jug? What daily rhythms do you have in place to allow the Shepherd to lead you to still waters?
He restores my soul. The broken depths of my soul are healed and energized by God’s spirit to live another day. In the midst of crisis, the sense of living in survival mode becomes acute, focusing on the present. We do the needful for each day. The Shepherd of our souls leads us each day, and restores our inner being with rest.
I received the second Moderna vaccine and experienced unpleasant side effects: chills, headache, nausea, and an elevated heart rate over 120 bpm. I put a cold pack on my face and neck to “shock” or stimulate the nerve that connects the brain to the heart to help regulate the fast heartbeat. And, thankfully it did go down. This was a perfect picture of my need to “energize” my soul, to restore spirit connections with the Lord God. Our lives can become so anxious and full that it is difficult to rest. Rest may only come when we unplug from everything, get out of our stressful environment for a walk or day away, and allow others to take care of things so we can get uninterrupted sleep.
What could you do to energize your soul? What are ways to get the message from your busy brain to your soul to lie down and rest?
Breath prayers. Walk with me O Lord, by brooks of water. Jeremiah 31:9 Inhale: Walk with me O Lord, Exhale: By brooks of water.
Inhale: I will never be thirsty Jesus. Exhale: with your living water. John 4:15
Praise. Salt of the Sound, Be Still
Shepherd of my soul, Marty J Nystrom