I’ve read the opening verses to Psalm 23 countless times, but it was only today that I felt the impact of these words in a tangible way:
He leads me beside quiet waters.
Again, I have read this so many times before that I had completely missed the significance of the statement.
- “The Lord is my shepherd” – Check. Got that. God is leading things, and He knows what’s what.
- “I shall not want” – I like how it’s stated in the New Living Translation – “I have everything I need”. As long as God is my shepherd, He assures that all of my needs will be met (although His sense of timing is quite different from mine).
- “He makes me lie down in green pastures” – I’m coming to appreciate the fact that sometimes God has to compel us to rest, since we don’t usually do it ourselves.
I had made these observations before, but it was only today that the statement about the “quiet waters” got my attention:
He leads me beside quiet waters.
The only way that I can appreciate that He’s leading me “beside quiet waters” is when God removes any – or in some cases, practically all – of the distracting influences in my life. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure the Psalmist would’ve remarked that God “leads [him] beside waters,” but not necessarily quiet ones.
It’s only when the distractions and worries of life – our finances, our careers, our relationships, shifting world events, and other such things – are stripped away, that we start to realize that we don’t perhaps have as much control over our lives as we thought we did. Only then do we begin to notice the quiet waters around us. Before then, we were just busy going about our daily lives, fairly oblivious to the fact that green pastures and quiet waters were just around the corner.
But that’s not the kind of life that God wants for us. So, in His own tough-love kind of way, He’ll allow our circumstances to get disrupted so that we have opportunities to (re)discover the green pastures and quiet waters that have always been within reach.
In order to notice that something is quiet, you have to first be still. Then, you need to be paying attention to your environment. You also need to be calm. When these three things are in place, you start to notice things around you, and will begin to appreciate the peace that is available when your perception of the world involves quiet and stillness.
If you don’t believe me, then just take a moment to go to the beach, if one is near you. You’ll notice that – generally speaking – the waters are usually pretty quiet, but it’s the people on the beach who are noisy.
It’s a simple experiment – simply go to the water (if you live in a waterless place, then I don’t know what to tell you, sadly), and stare at the waves. Notice how your thought processes begin to change as you find yourself in the presence of “quiet waters”.
I am grateful that God has stripped away so many of the distractions that were in my life – painful though it has been. These things were choking out my ability to appreciate the green pastures and quite waters around me. Today has been the first day when I have truly been still, and not tried to figure out how I can resolve the multitude of issues in my life in my own strength.
Instead, I have accepted the fact that I’m lying down in the green pastures, and I am being led beside the quiet waters. And I made the decision to no longer resist. Instead, I plan to simply enjoy the view!
Here is my prayer for today: Thanks, Lord, for this humbling lesson. Truly, I control nothing. Instead of complaining about what I don’t have in my life right now, remind me to simply enjoy resting on the green pastures, and appreciating the peace of the quiet waters. You’ll let me know what next step You have in store for me, whenever the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll rest. I plan to hang out here in the green pastures and by the quiet waters until You tell me it’s time to move on! In Your name I pray, Amen.