down in the green grass, canon 40d
photo by kirsten.michelle
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.
Today is my first day of four weeks off of work. I get married in just less than two weeks and will be returning to my job just two weeks after. As the countdown ticks away the time and the days remaining of my unmarried life diminish, there are a lot of things to do. The list is long. We have to find an apartment. We have to apply for a marriage license. We have to drive back and forth, north and south up the one hundred mile stretch between my current home and my hometown for countless appointments that will prepare us for the day. We still have to find a soloist, a sound person, someone to cut the cake, and another to tote away the gifts. Anyone who has taken part in planning a wedding understands that in the days just prior, there is a lot to do.
So I've intentionally set aside today for the purpose of rest.
This doesn't mean my backside has taken up permanent fixture on the couch. This doesn't mean I won't leave my house or even that I won't accomplish a productive thing or two.
When I consider the Psalmist's words, I'm struck by the fact that the very first way in which he describes the lord as a shepherd is this: he makes me lie down. He makes me. It would be so easy to get caught up in the chaos that necessarily attends a life-changing event like this. It would be easy and perhaps even make more sense to spend today ticking things off a to-do list that, despite how much I am getting done, is increasing in length. But I've already noticed how the busyness has worn on me, how it's worn me down and depleted me. Not typically a napper, I took three last week, a 2-1/2 hour nap on Saturday, and an hour nap yesterday. And I'm still exhausted, still fighting the feeling that a little gremlin is inside my head tugging backward on my eye sockets. Everything is telling me: lie down.
The second part that strikes me is that this lying down precedes the words, he restores my soul. While I doubt highly that the good Lord needs my help in the work of restoration, it is interesting to note that to some extent, it requires my participation, my willingness to lie still for a time and be restored. And I will affirm for you that after weeks of work and wedding planning and many consecutive late nights on the phone, I need to be restored. To be sure I was understanding the words correctly, I examined the definition and found the following:
1. to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish: to restore order.
2. to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting.
3. to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.
4. to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc.: to restore the king to his throne.
5. to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost).
6. to reproduce or reconstruct (an ancient building, extinct animal, etc.) in the original state.
I need Him to bring me back to myself, to bring me back, to dust in the corners and seal the cracks and bring vividness and color and life and vitality back. I do not pretend to possess a ordered, rested, healthy soul right now. But of all the days in my life, I think today is the day where He makes me lie down. Today is the day in which I invite Him: restore my soul.
And so I move meditatively and with intention through my day, breathing in and out deliberately, mindfully inviting Him to provide rest in every aspect. I invite Him: restore my soul.