He makes me lie down in green pastures . — Psalm 23:2
I hate it when I can’t sleep. I never feel the need to post the fact that I can’t sleep on Facebook, but it bothers me nonetheless. I have learned to evaluate the factors while I am not sleeping at 3 A.M. Sometimes the reason in simple. Maybe I went to Walhalla Steak House and downed 5 cups of tea. I might go to sleep, but when I wake up in the middle of the night, I am not dozing back off. Sometimes the reason is work related, I may be having to deal with “that” parent. I try to push work stuff out of my mind and deal with it only at work, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
I remember reading Phillip Keller’s “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” He talked about how proximity to the Shepherd is so important. At the time, I remember feeling so far away from Jesus. I imagined that I was a sheep among many sheep. There was a shepherd along with a wolf in the distance waiting to pounce on one of the sheep. Which one will he get? The answer is kind of obvious…the wolf will get the one that is furthest away from the shepherd. No wonder I was a defeated, fearful Christian. I was trying to live in this place where Jesus was simply “in sight.“ My goal was to do the “worldly” things I wanted to do, but always be able to nod my head at the Shepherd and think we were “cool“ with one another. I had no idea that this was the place of unrest, not to mention the place where you get eaten. The sheep that stay the closest to him are perfectly comfortable lying down in the pasture the shepherd led them to and sleeping peacefully without fear. In fact, while the sheep are sleeping, they are completely unaware that the shepherd is keeping the predators away.
Money can buy sleep, but it cannot buy rest. I’ve taken pills that “knock me out.” I always feel horrible when I wake up from “pill sleep.” The best, most consistent sleep comes from a consistent, trusting relationship with the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. So, why did I get up at 3:30 this morning and write this WMD? Well, I am anxious about a few things. The new school year is right around the corner. I am preaching this Sunday at Golden Corner Church (there is ALWAYS an increase in spiritual battle a week or two before I preach.) I have one last week of on-line schooling to complete the last of 3 graduate level classes that I have taken since January (and hated all along the way). When my mind starts thinking about all this stuff in the middle of the night, it is just impossible to sleep.
True rest comes from being at total peace with God. He MAKES me lie down in green pastures. I can honestly say, if not for the Lord Jesus Christ, I hate to think about the junk I would dwell on and I know I would never truly be at rest. If I ever can’t sleep, at least now I know where to go. Now that I know the Good Shepherd, I may lay there for 30 minutes or so and let my mind go a thousand different directions, but I’m not going to let this continue the rest of the night. I will get up, grab my Bible, and go to a quiet place (which happens to be everywhere at 3:30). In doing so, I am not only moving away from the wolves seeking to devour my mind, but I am moving toward the safety of the Good Shepherd who wants nothing more than for me to trust in the fact that He meets every single one of my needs.
One more thing, I started this post out by saying “I hate when I can’t sleep.” I was about to go up there and delete that sentence, but I don‘t want to miss the lesson here. Be careful what you think and say about the frustrating moments in your life. More than likely, these events are simply the Lord drawing you closer to Himself. You get to choose how you respond to these moments. I don’t always choose correctly, but as it turns out, I haven’t hated these past couple of hours at all.
If you are not resting lately, how close are you to the Shepherd?