This is a re-post of a Facebook message I wrote two years ago today. It was a strong lesson I learned that night and it is still just as true today as it was then.
It has been an interesting week to say the least.
This post is not an update on Dad … he is stable and doing fine in a new room and out of ICU. I am writing this while I watch him sleep.
No, this post is something I feel strongly convicted about … it is sharing what I have learned from the heart of God this week.
I drove to USA Medical Center to catch up with Mom and Dad Tuesday night in the ER and I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me to meditate on the 23rd Psalm. The lines were familiar and easy to remember…
“Lord, you are my shepherd, I shall not want…”
Actually, I was trying to make every light to get to the ER as soon as possible. There was quite a bit of want there.
“You make me lie down in green pastures;
You lead me beside quiet waters.
You restore my soul;”
Honestly, that is as far as I got.
My soul was vexed, my emotions had the best of me and there were no “quiet waters” or “green pastures” in sight.
“You MAKE me lie down in green pastures”
The answer to it all … my agitation, fear, feelings of regret and frustration were all taken care of in that one verb … make
I am not capable of finding the resting places that I need.
I am not capable of stilling my soul in silence in the midst of turmoil. That is why Jesus is the GOOD shepherd.
The LORD slowed me down and showed me the answer in that little verb. That one word unlocked the meaning of all the saints of yesteryear who said that when you were in dire straits, you were in a blessed place.
The “green pastures” and the “still waters” are the realization of a truth that is not discussed much these days but the old timers (Tozer, Wigglesworth, and others) hit it quite a lot.
That place of rest is in the realization … not acknowledgement of the mind, but submersion of the will, soul, and spirit in the reality of the SOVEREIGNTY of God.
The struggles and trials of life serve but one purpose … to refocus our faith and trust in God.
When Elijah ran from Jezebel, God supplied his every need but there was one overarching need that Elijah had that he felt was not met. The need for reassurance…
“He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
— 1 Kings 19:11-13
God used the fierce wind, earthquake, and fire to get Elijah’s attention … any of these things could have killed him. But, what was the most fearful thing? The silence in the waiting for the Voice of God.
I have been searching pictures of this scene on Google today. Most of the artists and painters show Elijah holding his robe over his face like he is protecting himself from a windstorm. I just do not think that they understood what happened.
The Bible says “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) It also says that NO man can look on God and live. (Exodus 33:20)
As comforting as the presence of God was to Elijah, His presence also terrified him as well. That is why I believe he wrapped his mantle over his entire head in layers so that there was no way that a glimpse of God would come through the cloth.
I can imagine him stepping to the mouth of the cave with his breath hot behind the cloth and his hands in a position of supplication as he stepped out to meet the Lord.
He MAKES us lay down …
In that terrible moment, we realize that no matter what we are facing … cancer, stroke, loss of a loved one, the valley of the shadow of death … there is nothing as fearful as facing God. And, in that precious moment of illumination, we realize that this very same God is for us …. He always has been … we just have to come to Him on His terms.
What is the silence at the end of the wind, earthquake, and fire?
It is the realization that only ONE can make them stop. Only ONE has dominion over them all. That ONE sometimes allows some pretty dreadful things into our lives to give us a fresh realization of who He is. He desires to shepherd us … He desires to fellowship with us … but, sometimes He has to MAKE us slow down and consider that He is our only hope.
This week, I have FOUND the power of being made to lie down in the green pastures of the sovereignty of God. You can only find it by finding out how truly helpless you are.
At that moment, He breaks through and becomes all you need … all you have been looking for…
So, why all this? Because I have to tell someone, so why not my friends?
I freely and gladly confess Jesus as my Lord and the Savior of my soul because I KNOW He has interceded for me this week and that He has been pleading my case before the Father (Hebrews 7:25). He is my peace and my resting place … His Lordship and Sovereignty are my green pasture.
I shall not want any more … I have found shalom … peace and enough…