Like a Sheep in Green Pastures or a Rat in the Race?

Ever wonder what your life looks like to others? Do people see you as frantic or peaceful? Hurried or rested? Climbing and striving or contented and calm?

To put it in the vernacular of Psalm 23, do you look like that sheep lying down in green pasture? You know the one. The contented sheep that doesn't want for anything because luscious green grass and smooth flowing water is its daily diet. The one that is constantly watched over by an attentive, generous, and protective shepherd. The one that lies down and dreams of abundance and satisfaction, knowing full well that all its dreams will indeed come true. Does your life look like that? Does mine? I wonder.

We all like to quote Psalm 23, but do we live like it's factual?

Why do I ask, you might wonder. Well I'll tell you why.

This morning as I read Leviticus 25 I was reminded that our "restfulness" is very important to God. When He brought His people out of their despair and bondage in Egypt and took them to a land flowing with milk and honey, He instructed them to rest there. He knew that they would be prone to work hard to save for a rainy day (they'd seen a few), they'd be tempted to be all work and no play (that had been their lifestyle in Egypt, after all), they would probably lean toward hoarding, selfishness, and greed (that's what happens when you haven't had much to call your own in the past), and they might begin to think any success or abundance they achieved was all according to their own hard work, prompting them to work all the harder.

But God wanted them to rest instead.

God wanted His people to be a well-cared-for people. He wanted other nations to look at them and notice that they had plenty and yet they weren't striving and fretting. He wanted other people to envy the Israelites, to want what they had, to desire their lifestyle. He wanted the nations around them to sit up and take notice of the fact that
God's people were to be restful. They were to look like sheep in a green pasture, not rats in a race. Why? So that other people, other nations would know that their God was a good God who kept His word and took care of His people. When they rested, He received the glory He was due. When they disobeyed by fretting, overworking, hoarding, striving, and neglecting to rest, His reputation was tarnished.

I can shake my head at the Israelites and wonder why they couldn't keep this simple command (because they didn't keep it for long), but I'd spend my time better by evaluating my own life. And that's why I asked that simple question.

Ever wonder what your life looks like to others?

God's reputation is on the line if you profess to know Him, if you claim that He is your God and you are His child.

If I'm just another rat in the race, then anyone who examines my life could easily conclude that my God is not all He's cracked up to be. My striving and manipulating and fretting and overworking suggest that I'm on my own, I have no good God who is faithful to provide for me. But when I rest, cease from striving, lay down my worries, and trust Him completely, then my behavior gives testimony to His graciousness and love.

I'm concerned about the fact that many of us tend to wear our busyness like a badge of honor instead of seeing it as a slight against God's provision. We see someone we haven't seen in a while and one of the first three or four sentences out of our mouths is "Oh, I've just been so busy. You know...we're just always doing something. Busy, busy, busy." As though that's the goal. As though that attests to our worth somehow. When did that happen? I'll tell you when. The same day God declared to His people that they were to rest every seventh day, every seventh month, every seventh year. On that same day Satan began to plot and scheme to make God's people think that a life at rest is somehow a life worth less.

And we've bought it.

Rest is a big deal to our God for a good reason. A people a rest indicates a God at work.

Is He at work in your life? Then relax. And let the world around you see that you are at rest because you have a good Shepherd who has plopped you down in some fertile ground. If He makes you to lie down in green pastures, then lie down already. For His sake.

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