If you’re a parent, you know how frustrating it can be sometimes trying to convince your child that what you are asking them to do is what is best for them. I especially think back to those days with an infant that needs sleep and gets cranky but they are so cranky they don’t want to sleep and you know it is the one thing they need to help them. My youngest (3 years old) still does that sometimes. It’s so frustrating knowing they need to just stop, lay down, and rest but all they want to do is run around and be grumpy. Sometimes you just have to make them lay down and as they lay there they start to experience exactly what they need, sleep.
Unfortunately, as crazy as it is for me as a parent I find myself doing the same thing with God. Sometimes, okay most of the time, life is busy. We run from appointment to meeting to practice to play-date to event and never stop. We wonder why we feel so exhausted, not just physically but spiritually. Our relationships seem to be shallow and we find it hard to invest in people like we know we should (remember that whole Great Commission thing where we are supposed to be making disciples, investing in people like that). All the time we are running around grumpy and unable to get anywhere and God is telling us we need to lie down, we need rest. Describing God as a good shepherd Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Sometimes we need to slow down, take a breath, and rest. There is a season for running and busyness (we just finished 4 weeks of camp, that is a season for busyness and running), but if we keep that pace we will burn out fast. We need to recognize a season of rest. We need to make sure in the chaos of schedules and appointments and responsibilities we find those moments to rest and recharge our spiritual batteries with God.
That is exactly what the next verse tells us, Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul…”. If we allow God to make us rest and lay down, He restores our soul. The word “restores” used in Hebrew doesn’t mean to make it like it once was but to be exactly as it was, like going in a time machine back to its origination. Remember, the way God created man was in perfect fellowship with Him. Adam and Eve enjoyed walking with God through the garden, at least they enjoyed that until they sinned. When we slow down God takes us back to the way things originally were, in fellowship with Him.
Have you ever tried to talk to someone who is doing something else? I have a bad habit of being on my phone (doing non-essential things) while trying to converse with people in the room. I don’t get nearly as much out of the conversation and sometimes I miss pieces of vital information, and I’m sure they feel (because it’s how I feel when people do it to me) like I’m not all that interested in the conversation. That is what we do to God all the time. We are running around busy with everything trying to talk to Him at the same time and all He wants is for us to stop and listen for a minute. When we do we find rest and restoration. Our relationship and communication with God is restored and strengthened and we will find our relationships with other people will go deeper and we will be able invest in making disciples like we are called to. During His ministry Jesus often went out by Himself, away from the crowds and demands, to pray. Just a time where he could be alone and focus on His relationship with the Father.
So, as the school year gets ready to start and the onslaught of demands on your time begins, remember to lay down. Lay down, rest, and be restored. The thing you need to get through is not another cup of coffee, although that certainly doesn’t hurt. The thing you need is to rest. To rest and restore your relationship with the one who not only created you but sustains you.
-Richie Gibson, Youth Pastor