This a time like no other that we are living in. I know for some people this has been a blessed relief from their usual busyness and hectic schedules, but for others it has been a stressful and demanding time. I heard someone say that we are all in the same storm together, but we are not in the same boat.
Psalm 23 has been a comforting companion to me on the boat I’m sailing in this storm. What I sense it drawing me into is the gentle practice of doing nothing with God. It has been an invitation to me, straight from the heart of God, to pause and rest in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and my own swirling thoughts and emotions.
When our province first went into a state of emergency and we were asked to stay home, I was surprised that I still found a way to rush around. I wanted to be productive. I wanted to do a good job teaching my kids. I was trying to stay on top of all of the housework building up with four people at home all the time!
But our home was not one of peace. My son and I were butting heads over school work, I was getting frustrated when I couldn’t find the time to exercise or write, and I wasn’t enjoying this time with my family like I wanted to.
Psalm 23 helped to rearrange my thoughts. It ushered in an entirely different perspective on my time, and my purpose. He lets me lie down in green pastures. I imagine myself there, laying down in the softness of the grass with the sun beating on my face. There is no other place I need to be, nothing else I need to be doing. God is reminding me to slow down so that I don’t forget that I belong to him, that I am whole just as I am, not because of what I do.
I’ve discovered that the practice of doing nothing, though difficult at times when we are used to filling our days with activity, can be quite delicious. I began to see the importance of giving myself the gift every day of entering into that green pasture with God, and just being. Whether I am sipping a tea on the couch watching my kids play, gazing out the window at the trees, or laying on my bed with my eyes closed, these moments have reminded me how nourishing it is to step back from all of my ‘should’s’ and to-do’s’, and all of my ideas of how my day should go. Let the moments unfold as they will, let God show me where he is already present.
Psalm 23 shows me a gentler way of being in the world. He leads me beside peaceful streams. God knows just what I need. There I sit at the water’s edge, and as it quietly rolls past me I remember that some moments don’t need to be seized or controlled, twisted and squeezed for every ounce of juice. Sometimes God is asking me to let go and trust his slow work. When I release control my hands open, my heart softens, I’ve made more space for him.
Henri Nouwen wrote that “Prayer is a way of being empty and useless in the presence of God and so proclaiming our basic belief that all is grace and nothing is simply the result of hard work.” And this river of grace is what God is inviting me into, and maybe you too. The more I live in this river, the more I have of God in me. And the more I have of God in me, the more I have to share with the world.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name. – Psalm 23:1-3