Green Pastures

Of the strangest, most uncomfortable ways to wake up in the morning, a dislocated hand is pretty high on the list. Two weeks ago, I began to notice wrist pain in both hands immediately after waking up each morning. So I started wearing wrist wraps overnight. However, the loose support didn’t prevent one (or more) joints in my right hand from dislocating as I repositioned my hand last Saturday morning. If you’re confused as to how this happened, so am I.

I typically don’t like to explain my medical symptoms on my blog, but I feel like I should in this case, if only to reveal my utter state of confusion. It’s that point in the semester when I have most of the rest of the semester planned out on a daily basis. I haven’t had the time to process what this new development in my pain saga means. Since I have a spare hour or two today, I’m doing that now. Here are some thoughts on the Psalms that have provided me with comfort over the past few days.

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

The last time I remember this verse being particularly comforting was in elementary school, when I was afraid of robbers breaking in. I haven’t thought about this verse in years, until the Holy Spirit recently recalled it to mind. This verse has been my prayer each night since the dislocation. I’ve never felt more helpless than admitting to God that I can’t even sleep on my own without falling apart. But this feeling of helplessness is leading me to recognize that God is in control and “will keep me safe.”

Psalm 139:13-16 (HCSB)

13 For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.

 “My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret.” Part of my response to discovering more problems with my body is a response of arrogance; I think I know how God should have created me. But my bones were not hidden from Him when He created me: He knew exactly what He was doing when He made me the way that I am. Sometimes it’s hard to see that I have been “remarkably and wonderfully made;” sometimes I feel like I’ve been poorly made. But, according to verse 14, I should praise God in response to the way I am made. No matter how I feel at the moment, His “works are wonderful, and I know this very well,” deep down in my soul.

Psalm 23 (ESV)

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads 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 shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

I’ve read this Psalm nearly every day for the past week. It has never been more meaningful to me than in this past week. Here are some insights the Holy Spirit has revealed for each verse.

1- When God is in control, I can’t ask for anything more. When I attempt to be in control, I need everything. With God in control, I need nothing more.

2- I don’t always want to lie down. Sometimes I need someone to make me. However, when God “makes me lie down,” it’s in green pastures. It’s in community with other believers. It’s in a place surrounded by love and care. He knows what I need when I don’t. When I’m angry at God for making me lie down, I have no reason to be, because I’m in green pastures.

3- My soul needs restoration. Even when I think that I need physical healing, God goes out of His way to bring me spiritual healing.

4- God doesn’t make me lie down in the valley of the shadow of death; He guides me to walk right through it. And even during the brief times in the valley, He is with me.

5- Instead of counting the number of problems I have, I should be counting the number of blessings. If I did, the number of blessings would exceed the number of problems.

6- I don’t deserve goodness or mercy, and I certainly don’t deserve to dwell in the presence of God forever. However, Christ paid too high a price for me to deny this gift.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a part of my green pasture, and I want to thank you for the role that you play in my life. Writing this post has been a challenge–both physically and spiritually. (I’ve had to ice my hands the whole time I’ve written this post, not to mention the strange and incredible foot pain during the middle of this post.) But I needed to remind myself that I do not dwell in the valley of the shadow of death; until I dwell in the presence of God, I will rest, under His guidance, in green pastures.


I’m on my second “sick day” of the week, complete with a dead phone and dead charger. I mention this because I currently don’t know what to do with myself; it is a truly rare occasion that I am not in class or rehearsal, or preparing for class or rehearsal, or taking a temporary break on my phone. To-do lists are the script of my life. I don’t run on caffeine. Instead, I run on the sense of accomplishment when I complete a task. Generally speaking, rest is not my preferred method of spending time.

Conviction time: Even God needs rest. The phrase “You can have too much of a good thing” applies to creation.

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day. So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. By the seventh day God had completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.” Genesis 1:31-2:3)

In order to fully appreciate the good work He accomplished, God needed rest. And because God Himself needed rest, rest became holy, meaning “set apart.” Rest is set apart because it is contrary to the human inclination to keep pressing forward. Ironically, the way to fight my natural sinful tendencies is to rest. And when I reach a state of rest, I can be godly by stepping back, appreciating the work I have done through God’s strength, and seeing it as good.

More specific than general rest, I need relational rest. I had the privilege of getting to meet Audrey Assad yesterday. Her song that I knew the best was “Restless,” so I was especially interested when she spoke of her desire (in leading worship) to lead the congregation to a place of rest before God. During a Q&A session, I got the chance to ask her to expand on this idea. She used the illustration of Mary and Martha, saying that we need a “holy imbalance” between the two; we need to pay attention to details like Martha, but it is also “necessary” for us to rest in the presence of our Savior (Luke 10:42). Being conscientious in our duties is important, but Jesus claimed that Mary made the better choice by choosing relationship over responsibility. We live for relationships–first and foremost with the Lord and then with fellow sinners in need of His grace. While all relationships are worth our investment, our relationship with the Lord is especially significant in that we are commanded to rest and be the weaker half: “‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30). Through intimacy with the Lord, we have the freedom to rest in the arms of One Who is stronger than us.

Outside of community, I need my own personal rest. Earlier I may have given the impression that I never experience rest. That would not be true, or else I wouldn’t have survived this long in college. However, I very rarely experience intentional rest; most of my rest is unintentional. At the end of a normal day of five classes, rehearsals, and work, I come back to my dorm to do homework for the next day’s five classes. (The joys of being a music major.) But recently, whenever I finally sit down to get some work done, fatigue and pain take over, leaving me no choice but to lie down and relax every muscle of my body. This is always a setback in my plan to be productive and is, therefore, very frustrating. I’m constantly reminded of my own weakness through the necessity to stop my own plans and follow the orders of my exhausted body. Yesterday I learned the root of my frustration through the lyrics of Audrey Assad’s song: “I’m restless ’til I rest in You.” Every time that I am forced to stop my own plans and rest, God is providing time to reflect on the good He is bringing out of my life and to freely enjoy His presence. The slower-paced times of my life are not a curse; it is a blessing to spend time worshipping my Savior. As Psalm 62:5 says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.”