He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
When he was anxious about the responsibility of having to lead millions of Israelites, God assured Moses in Exodus 33:14 “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
In Matthew 11:28
Jesus offers to all of us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Whether you are parent or a teacher or coach or a student or athlete- sometimes the new school year can be overwhelming. I had a college professor who urged and admonished us to always observe the Sabbath. Not JUST because it’s one of the 10 commandments and God tells us to, but because God knows we NEED a break. Jesus had His disciples come away with him up into the mountains or out onto the lake in order to rest before sending them back out into the rigors of ministry.
It’s easier said than done. Believe me, I get it. You’re exhausted, but as soon as you sit down to rest or lie down to sleep or even just power-nap and your brain starts running over everything you haven’t gotten done yet, then your chest tightens and there’s no rest.
Well then, open up the Bible and read. Read through the book of Psalms. Talk to God. Pray like Hell (no pun intended). Get up and get some physical work done (cleaning, organizing, mowing, laundry, bathrooms) but pray or hum worship songs while you do so.
Take your mind off your stress. Not ALL day everyday, be responsible, but maybe nightly before you go to bed or at least weekly, whether that’s Friday/Saturday for a break or Sunday to worship. Let off some steam. There’s an old Irish saying that says that a good laugh and a good sleep will cure anything.
God doesn’t want you to burn out. He WANTS you to refresh and recharge. Seek Him and ask Him. Perhaps sheep are able to sleep well because they count each other. Maybe because they’re so simple and trusting. Sheep dogs no doubt sleep lightly, because they need to be aware and alert to protect the sheep- whereas sheep don’t have much responsibility.
But most likely, like small children perhaps, they sleep soundly because they know that the shepherd (and sheep dogs) are there with them, keeping them safe. So we need to remember that our Good Shepherd has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises that if we invite Him in to our hearts, He and His Father will come in and eat with us.
He is not just the shepherd, you know, but the gate (John 10:6-8). In Jesus’ time, shepherds slept in the opening of the sheep pen. They literally were the gate. If we can keep this image in mind when it’s time to rest, perhaps it will help us sleep better.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord
, make me dwell in safety.
Help me sleep at night. Grant me the rest I need. And please lead me to opportunities and to people who will help me refresh and recharge, whether that’s through catharsis or learning and growing or being fed and encouraged, or just plain escape. Forgive me when I try to escape on my own or when I try to self-medicate. Instead, help me to trust You to provide the breaks and the nourishment and encouragement that my soul really needs.
In Jesus Name, our Good Shepherd and our Gate we pray,