THIS SERIES: WHEN IT'S GOOD TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul.
adults), 51% of these reported feeling depressed, and 61%, anxious. And of course, global events in the past two years have further multiplied these figures, with a similar pattern, or worse being found across the world. People are in desperate need of an answer.
And sometimes it is no better in church circles; dedication to the Lord is frequently measured by commitment to church programmes (wherever did we get that idea?); and sadly, burnt-out (and disillusioned) Christians can be found in every city. We were called, however, to the long haul, not a short sprint. If we really are to run the course laid out for us, we need to invest in a more healthy rhythm of living.
The answer to stress is rest; one of the great themes of Scripture (and the focus of this website). Biblical rest is all about laying down our own efforts and finding that place of trust and peace in the Lord’s provision—in all its aspects. It’s not just about physical rest, (although this is important), but the cessation of toil, the striving to produce or perform. Our life in God is one which is supposed to well up from within, the natural consequence of the Spirit living in us, rather than from pressure exerted on us from outside.
TAKE A BREAK
The ‘still waters’ described in this verse of Psalm 23 denote ‘a resting place’ in Hebrew.
David’s experience of rest was characterised by stillness and quiet. We live in a noisy world; machinery, traffic noise, ipods and advertising—many of us are continually plugged in to surround-sound which keeps us from hearing the still small voice which desires to minister to our souls and spirits. We need to take time out to be quiet in His Presence. The word for restore here means ‘turning back’; the Lord’s plan is always to realign us with His truth, to bring peace to our minds, wills and emotions by putting us back in step with the manufacturer’s instructions.
And it’s not surprising that in the imagery of this Psalm the resting place is by water. Water in the Bible is continually pictured as therapeutic and life-giving, the means to cleansing, refreshment, restoration, healing and Life. This period before Easter was traditionally one in which new Christians prepared for baptism; one of the things we can do as we rest with the Lord during this season, is to meditate on this hugely significant and powerful step on our Christian journey.
And with the lengthening days of spring, perhaps we can also actually get outside to the water’s edge, whether it be sea-shore, lake, canal, river or pond, and meet the Lord there. Over the last few years environmental psychologists have been exploring the proposition that being in and around water is good for both our stress levels and creative processes, (I think David came to that conclusion a long time ago!) and I came across an interesting book, ‘Blue Mind’ by marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols on the remarkable effects of water on our health and well-being (details below*).
So, let's take opportunity to enjoy the therapeutic effects of Creation, let's meet with the Lord who longs to refresh and restore us. And let's align ourselves with God's truth by declaring it over ourselves, (see previous posts in this series...)
Let’s respond to Jesus’ invitation to step aside with Him:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
[Matthew 11: 28-30 The Message Translation]
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM
NEXT WEEK: WALKING RIGHT
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
We all want to walk right... but how?
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[Photo credits: Patrick Szylar (lake); David Clode (waterlilly); Christian Buehner (woman by pool) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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