“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures”
My pastor has begun a study going through the 23rd Psalm. This past Wednesday, as he was detailing various things about sheep, one tendency he noted was for sheep to eat all the way to the root of the grass, causing it to not grow again. So shepherds have to keep moving them to different pastures to prevent this from happening.
And I began to wonder…how often do we become fixated on one “green pasture” to the extent that it loses its nourishing value for us? I don’t want to get too lost in metaphor here; I just feel like there is truth here that I pray God will unfold for us.
God our Father loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). He is our Father of Lights, from whom all good things come down (James 1:17). He delights to give us the desires of our heart – when we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). And perhaps that is the protective connection point. God knows the wearying toll disappointments can bring. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). But at the same time, He knows the danger of our getting caught up in those good gifts.
We all have the capacity to fixate so thoroughly on that good grass in front of us, which brings us strength and light and life and passion, that we consume it down to its very root. So that relationship, or that job, or that ministry, or that friendship – whatever it is that we poured all of our focus into – all that seemed life-giving in it is gone. Because we lost our sight of true treasure, and lost our sense of boundaries.
God does purpose those things to strengthen and enliven us. They can stir our hope and renew our faith. But they can’t become our all. They were never meant to. Only He fills that role fully. Only He is able to do so.
So He brings challenges. He moves us away from places where we become too comfortable. He brings to light our need for Him so that we will continually look to our Shepherd, not to the pastures around us, to fill our needs.
He brings us to green pastures and makes us lie down, compelling us to trust Him and stop striving. And He moves us around, to keep those pastures green and flourishing. So they continue to bring life and nourishment for us and for others. We just need to keep looking to Him and following where He leads. Because He leads us for our good. Seeing our need, giving us good things, and acting on our behalf to guard against the dangers we don’t see. Caring for us with such intention, because of His great love for us, His abundant mercy, and the immeasurable riches of His grace.