Beside Still Waters
Psalm 23 Amos 4:6-9
One of the most familiar passages scripture has to be Psalm 23. It is read, sung, quoted at weddings and at funerals, by those who know God and by those who don’t. There are numerous illustrations of wonderfully idyllic, sun dappled streams of calm water beside lush green fields portraying this precious psalm. But, my friends, how do these rich pastures and full streams of pure water come into being?
In the book of Amos, chapter 4, is the antithesis of this pastoral idyll. We read that, because of a lack of repentance and humility, God withholds the rain and without the rain there are no lush pastures, no crops, nothing to feed upon and be nourished. Reading through these verses, we see the breaking heart of God as He yearns for the people to put aside their pride and come back to His care and protection. It is His delight to pour out His love in ways that are so far beyond our imaginings. He wants us to lie down in green pastures, to be restored, to be refreshed and to be secure.
What we forget at our peril is that our pastures need the rain, the life giving water that is essential for anything to grow. And that this rain is all part and parcel of the gift of the green pastures where God wants us to be refreshed, renewed and filled with His joy. Why would we not do all that we are able so that we can just sit in His presence and enjoy being with Him, when it is His delight to share this time and these pastures with us.
We are so fickle. A couple of years ago, the district we live in was ravaged by forest and bush fire. We had not had rain for months and one stray spark from a plough hitting a stone, was all it took to start a fire that moved at terrifying speed through the forest plantations and native bush. Three and half thousand people were evacuated as it inexorably marched toward the township. By God’s grace alone, the wind direction changed, no-one was killed, no homes in the town were lost. I remember so many people saying at the time that they would never complain about the rain again, in fact, I was one of them. Yet, prior to this week, we have had five weeks of rain, mostly toward the end of the week and the weekend. And I found myself complaining about it, then repenting and seeking my Abba Father’s embrace as I realised what I was doing.
Our goal must be to be aware that by our actions, or inaction, we are resisting God’s gentle guidance and leading to that beautiful place where we can find true rest, where we can sit at His feet and allow Him to nourish and quicken our spirit.
Have you ever spent an afternoon simply sitting on cool green grass, relishing the feeling of peace that washes over you as you let go of the baggage that has become too heavy to bear? That precious quiet place is without doubt an incomparable gift beyond price. But, without the life giving pure water the pasture would be a dry, parched landscape. The gentle rain that, sometimes, can become a heavy downpour, may seem to be an inconvenience, a frustration or even a penance we have to endure, but is so essential.
To be refreshed, restored and refilled is something to never take for granted, to never become complacent about, and to be eternally grateful for.
Prayer: Father God, we know we will never be in want, never be alone to face the dark valleys, when we follow You, as You lead us beside still waters where we can lie down in lush green pastures, being nourished by You. Thank You Lord, thank You. Amen