Have you ever wondered why God refers to us as sheep in the Bible? Do you get some cute and cuddly image in your head thinking it’s a compliment? (As a knitter and crocheter I admit I look a sheep and see sweaters and mittens in preassembled form.) Thinking of a field full of sheep, and the smell of spring flowers, just feels peaceful doesn’t it? That kind of place sounds lovely, so it has to be a compliment when God calls us sheep.
I don’t know how to say this gently; It is definitely not a compliment. It’s a good thing sheep are cute because they’re not all that intelligent, they’re easily scared, and have a tendency to wonder away. Sound like anyone you know? (Yeah me neither.) Thankfully we have a Good Shepherd who loves us.
One of the many things sheep aren’t so good at is knowing when and where to rest. In Biblical times, shepherds lived with their sheep. The flock often moved with the seasons so there was always food. All that traveling made for sheep who needed rest. (If humans count sheep to fall asleep, which I’ve never understood, what do sheep count when they have insomnia? This are the kind of question that keeps me up at night.) After a long trek on a narrow path filled with predators, it’s easy to see a wide open field and finally run free without fear of what’s lurking in the shadows. It’s easy to see an open spot without the fear of a roaring lion trying to hurt you, and fill it with activity. In reality, it’s a perfect place to rest and be restored.
When was the last time you let God restore your soul? Just like sheep, God knows you’re not meant to keep going until you collapse from exhaustion in the middle of the wilderness where the enemy roars like a lion. Just as we need good food and sleep, we also need soul restoration. Psalm 23 describes perfectly how God wants to care for us. Even if it’s a familiar passage to you, read it slowly, intentionally thinking what it would be like to physically experience it.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, 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 runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. (NJKV)
Doesn’t that sound peaceful? The entire Psalm in rich in its description and shows just how much God cares for you.
Lately verse 2 has jumped out for me.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
“He makes me.”
That’s powerful. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to keep going to the point of exhaustion and a meltdown. If you follow me on Instagram (you’re missing out if you’re not https://www.instagram.com/jesusineverymoment/ ) and checked my Instagram Story from the day before I wrote this, I was struggling to choose a nap or to write this blog. I chose the nap, this time I actually listened instead of being made to lie down.
For the last few months though, I wasn’t so good at that. Really, it’s an area in which I struggle. To give a glimpse of behind the scenes, writing is maybe 10% of what really goes on as a writer for me. The rest is research, social media posts related to writing, (I LOVE getting to know you all!) editing, creating graphics for the blog and social media, freelance writing, preparing for live streaming, creating email campaigns, connecting with other writers, taking classes, building a new website, creating some downloads and shirts for you all, and drinking coffee. Oh, and all of this while still battling Mast Cell disease, a rare life threatening disorder best described as “allergic to life.” Then, to top it off I injured ligaments in both of my wrists forcing me to wear braces that immobilize my wrists and thumbs. You’d think I’d get the message to take a break, right? Nope! Just like a sheep I kept going. I saw that green field and thought I could keep running even though I was exhausted.
It was so easy to focus on what I wanted to accomplish that I failed to realize what was going on right then. I was an emotional mess, burned out, and wanting to quit writing all together. Deep down I knew I loved it, but I lost my joy. So, I kept going thinking that’s what God wanted, and it was just Satan (you know, the roaring lion) who was bringing discouragement. I was starting to hate writing, and that’s not me at all. I wish I could say God got through to me one on one. I also wish I could say the first three friends I talked with got through to me. (Thank you gals for putting up with me and still loving me!) Finally, I got the message when several people told me all at the same time. I took a week off.
You may have noticed there was a week with no blog post. I had Facebook auto scheduled, but I only tweeted a few times, and Instagram was just reposting or a personal pic, only if it was fun.
Do you know what happened? The first day was torture! I was going crazy. I was tempted to at least organize some files, but I didn’t. I forgot that doing “nothing” is actually doing something. When we rest and do fun activities, we are being restored.
Relaxing is God’s way of restoring us.
I don’t know about you, but I often trade fun to get something done. During that week, I began to see Him in so many places. A Jesus Moment, recognizing something good as a gift from God, was easier to find. I gained clarity. I took off my self-imposed deadlines so I could make the journey in the future easier. I also realized I had to step away from some projects I was involved in, some permanently and some just for a while. Something bigger was happening. My soul was restored. By Friday I messaged my friend, Angela, telling her I cracked and made a graphic for Instagram because I missed it. My joy returned. (For my fellow single ladies, her website is amazing. http://www.redeemedandfree.com/ ) Even now, I’m tired after a long day and a short night, but I don’t feel like I “have” to write. I want to write this blog because it feels good,
What about you? When was the last time you let God restore your soul? Just as we need food, water, and sleep, we also need daily soul restoration or we’ll eventually burn out. It’s so easy to focus on what you want to accomplishment. You become so consumed with fighting to achieve your goals that you become burned out. Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed. An internal tornado has taken over, and you’re swept up in the storm.
Down time isn’t wasted time. Relaxation is restoration. That is accomplishing something.
During my self-imposed time out, when things were quiet, I was able to hear God’s voice. It turns out there is one area where sheep are rather smart.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 (NKJV)
Stopping to take even a brief rest every day helps us hear God’s voice. How God restores us is as unique as we are. What restores you? Is it running, knitting, (I’m still stuck on the sheep thing.) reading, a walk, a good movie, some good music, or time with friends?
My challenge to you and myself this week, is to take time every day to be restored. Find what makes your heart happy. Ask God if there are areas in your life you need to step away from permanently or for even just a little while.
God wants you restore you. Will you let Him?
I enjoy hearing from you. Can you identify with some of the characteristics of sheep? What kind of things restore your soul?
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