I spent all day Tuesday at Amicalola Falls State Park. I left my laptop at home and turned my phone off so that I could spend 8 hours with my Bible, a notebook and Jesus. I focused on Psalm 23:1-3a, “1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.”
I could hardly get past that last statement: He restores my soul. It gripped me, and begged so many questions.
- What is my soul, anyway?
- Why would it need to be restored? What is wrong with it?
- So, what is my soul’s present condition?
This last question is the dangerous one. It is utterly untheoretical; totally practical. When I looked deeply into the core of my being (my soul) from which I derieve my motives, desires and sense of identity, I was disturbed. My soul was restless. Tired. Anxious. Frantic. Empty. Lacking love. Filled with insecurities. Lacking vision, energy and peace. Whoa.
Then I began to ask how the LORD restores souls. In one word: rest. Matthew 11:28-29 came to mind, as did other passages such as Psalm 63 and 103. Spiritual rest and physical rest. Emotional rest, too. Resting my entire identity on the promise: “Come to me, and I will give you rest for your souls.” That is the promise of the gospel. Jesus works for us. He fulfills the law; he suffers the penalty. We watch and rest. We believe and receive.
That is why Psalm 23 says that we will lack nothing. We may want stuff, but we’ll never be in real need, without the gospel and the presence and power of God—even in the vally of the shadow of death. As our Shepherd, he makes us lie down in green pastures. There is something about the Lord having to make me lie down. Resting is not natural for a performance based creature like myself. And so Monday, I realized that I was out of gas and knew that I had to get away for a fill up. The Lord was making me lie down in the green grass of the gospel so that I could feed all day—grazing in his grace. He provided still waters from which I could easily drink my fill. It was an opportunity to be still and know.
If you have the opportunity, take a few minutues for some daily restoration, or maybe even a more extended time. If you have not asked the question, “What is the condition of my soul,” let me encourage you to do so. And as you do, read Scripture, reflect on it, pray about it, listen to God, and write what comes to mind. Then repeat and repeat until you sense your soul being restored. It may take an hour, or an entire day… or more. It’s worth carving the time. After all, I maintenance my vehichles to keep them running. Shouldn’t I take time to maintenance my soul with the truth of the gospel, that our Shepherd laid down his life for us, knows us by name, and will never let us go.