“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3)
Apparently, in the spiritual life, we start by stopping. We do the things that actually help us to be who God wants us to be. Thus, this stillness and silence are the first movements of the life of faith. We must first “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength,” before we move on to “loving our neighbor as ourselves. The second love can only be a reflection of the first. Unfortunately, we get that backwards all too often.
I suppose that’s why the Shepherd has to make us lie down in green pastures, and why he must lead us beside still waters. He knows that we will not typically do those things on our own. And they are vital, not only to our own well-being, but the fruitfulness of our work for his kingdom.
Annie Dillard said it so beautifully when she said: “You don’t have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary.” Likewise, you don’t have to “lie down in green pastures” and “sit beside still waters.” If, however, you want your soul restored, you will find that they are necessary. The only question is, will we?
Lord God, never let me run ahead of you. Make me lie down in green pastures. Lead me beside still waters. Restore my soul. For only then will I be of any real use to you. Amen.