Today, I watched a dear family friend bury their father.
As I stood at the graveside, listening to the minister’s words of consolation, I paused for a moment to take in my surroundings. The wind rustled the trees that were as weathered as the tombstones that littered the landscape. Thick clouds methodically danced across the sky hinting of a much-needed rain.
I swayed ever so slightly, keeping in rhythm with the melody of the clouds and the breeze.
In that moment, although I had heard the words countless times before, the familiar liturgy, penned by Kind David in Psalm 23, captured me.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all of my days, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Our Cups Runneth Over
I have had the opportunity to consult with many different businesses and people over the last year. Yet no matter who I talk to, I see a common theme: their cups runneth over.
But in a much different way than King David suggested.
Their cups run over with grief, anxiety, worry, depression, fear, confusion, anger, stress, and a laundry list of other not-too-encouraging traits.
People keep telling me that their souls need rest.
Despite all of the life hacks and mantras and efficiencies they still haven’t found solitude. Too often it has taken an overdose, literal or metaphorical, to bring them to the point where they finally understand.
I don’t believe that is healthy. And I don’t believe we’re required or supposed to reach rock-bottom before we can finally have hope.
So how can we find the rest that our souls long for?
Sheep Looking for a Shepherd
Sheep are flock animals that have a natural inclination to wonder. In fact, sheep have been known to eat themselves right off of a cliff. That’s why they need a shepherd. Their shepherd leads them to pasture, to graze, on the very sustenance of their being.
The words of the 23rd Psalm have been used for centuries to comfort those who grieve. However, we pass by the words as a common incantation, reciting them with mundane inflection as the words cross our lips, without fully understanding the hope that they promise.
David opens with our source of hope:
“The Lord is my shepherd”
We all have a shepherd—a voice we listen to. Someone is leading us somewhere. The reality is, not all shepherds give us rest.We all have a shepherd. Someone is leading us somewhere. Click To Tweet
We try to find rest in restless things and wonder why wholeness escapes us.
About three years ago, I stopped chasing restless things and began the practice of rising early—beginning each day with scripture reading, journaling, and prayer. A simple habit of a sheep listening to its Shepherd. It has proven to be the place where my soul finds rest.
Before that, I believed in God. I called myself a Christian. But I wasn’t listening to God. I wasn’t drawing near to Him with childlike faith asking Him to lead.
I was the stubborn child trying to lead His Father and ambition was my guide.
I’m slowly beginning to understand the constantly and daily surrender to a voice greater than my own, to His will not mine.
Over the past three years, I have learned that my cups, my life, overflows with whatever I fill it with.
And I’ve found that nothing gives me rest like trusting in the God as my Father and Good Shepherd.
So, I challenge you to feed on these two questions today:
What are you filling your cup with?
Who is leading you?
If you find yourself astray, take a moment to rest and answer those two questions.
Then, hear the words of King David and look to the Lord as your Shepherd.
I can tell you from experience, your soul will thank you.