|Pixabay, Public Domain|
Here’s where we need to stop: “He makes me lie down….”
Don Baker writes: “Sheep are totally ignorant of their own limitations” (The Way of the Shepherd) and then goes on to say that sometimes the shepherd has to force his sheep to rest because they don't know know enough to do it on their own.
If we apply this particular characteristic of our divine Shepherd to our human shepherds, or pastors, I don’t recall too many of them who have ever actually told their “sheep” to rest. More likely they are constantly encouraging their congregants to get involved, work harder, volunteer, get busy with kingdom business.
What a novel idea to be told to rest, even forced to rest!
Now I am not suggesting that all of us “sheep” should put up our hooves and lounge around on the grassy slopes of our favourite sheep spas. But some of us need to learn the lesson of the shepherd of Psalm 23—lying down is sometimes a good thing, and in the end, more productive than that famous exercise of “burning the candle at both ends.”
It’s why God instituted the day of rest back in Genesis. And why He made very strict rules about what was to be done and what wasn’t to be done on that day. And why He got royally annoyed at His people for violating His instructions about the day of rest.
He rested Himself, though God never gets tired so actually needs no rest. But as an example to us, He “lay down.” Funny that we have so much trouble understanding the obvious, but I guess that just proves that we “sheep” are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.
Among the Ten Commandments is this one: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10). Note that this is a holy day unto the Lord, not a “holi-day” unto ourselves.
Isaiah 58 even describes a reward attached to resting and renewing both physically and spiritually once a week. The prophet writes: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has spoken” (58:13, 14).
There is meat, and to spare, to chew on in these two verses!
How many people has God had to literally stop in their tracks to get their attention because they are normally too busy to listen to His voice? Hospital beds are good resting places sometimes, and good places from which to listen!
The Shepherd knows that there are times when we need to stop and rest. And if we insist on being stubborn, or stupid, He’ll find a way to make us do what He knows is good for us.