Over the past week, you have likely watched, read, or listened to programs and/or articles related to COVID-19. Am I right?
Of course, other news has not stopped, but COVID-19 IS the news right now. And it will be for some time to come.
And, frankly, it would be easy to create another post about the virus right here. But having done additional writings and announcements as a pastor of a church, and having recorded one bonus episode and changed direction on another for my podcast, I need a break from thinking about COVID-19 too. So, apart from one more short paragraph, this post will not mention the virus again.
It has not been lost on me that as I have begun to write this series of posts on the need for REST, that many people are losing their jobs, at least temporarily. What we will not do for ourselves (REST), a virus which is less than 1/25000000th of an inch is forcing us to do anyway.
It reminds me of Psalm 23. Some readers will know the Psalm well. But you may not realize how important REST is to God in that Psalm.
The writer is David. David was a courageous youth. He fought against wild animals like lions and bears while protecting sheep (1 Samuel 17.34). He was a warrior who not only defeated a giant (Goliath, 1 Samuel 17.48-50), but killed many in battle (1 Samuel 18.7), all of which happened before he became king which surely had its own set of responsibilities.
Thus, I do not see David as one who was idle – at least not often.
Regardless of whether or not David was idle, God knew what David needed – and when. In Psalm 23, David writes about a topic he knows – shepherding. The first line is well known to most – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” But it is the second line (and verse) that deserves our attention today.
Verse 2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
Please notice what this verse does not say. It does not say, “God takes me to green pastures so I can lie down.” Granted, a sheep would love to have the green of the land on which to feed. For David, that might be having the chance to be content, to have an abundance of food, or something similar. But that does not mean that David would enjoy it. And thus,
“He MAKES ME lie down.”
Truly, any rationale we attempt is speculate (like what I did above). But God knew that David would not lie down (and/or stay down) on his own, so He forced the issue. It appears David understood this too, perhaps immediately, but at least after some reflection.
In just a few short weeks of this series on SABBATH, it is evident that God knows what we need and we are often resistant to those needs. We push, push, and push some more only to find ourselves facing exhaustion, burn out, or both.
But God made a day. He scheduled a day. Indeed, He observed a day. God did not need to rest after Creation, but He did. And by doing so, He provided an example for us to follow.
Unfortunately, we do not follow His lead and thus, sometimes, He strips away what is important to make us rest. Perhaps that stripping includes a job, a person, our health, or something else. But it almost always involves our pride to some degree.
That was true for David. The text does not say, “He asked me to lie down in green pastures” or “He offered me the opportunity to lie down in green pastures.” It says, God made Him. God rarely makes us do anything, and when He does, it is only after He knows we will not do so on our own. I believe God may have led David to a green pasture and asked and/or offered David a place to lie down.
But David’s pride would not do it. If we are honest, most of the time, our pride will not as well.
That is why I am studying Sabbath. In the midst of my goals, in the midst of seeking to achieve my vision, I can be WAY too stubborn. Your issue may be different than mine, but I will guess that you face a similar challenge.
However, God designed rest. God wants me to rest. He wants you to rest. And if He cannot get us to REST on our own, He may make us lie down too. But know this – if He does, it may not be in a lush, green pasture, but it will be for our benefit.
I want to be willing to REST on my own. I hope you do too. That is the purpose of these posts, so until next week – find a little, or a lot, of time to truly REST.