What it means to be beside still waters

by Nov 11, 2011

When God forces us to take a break from our hectic lives and lie down in green pastures, he wants us to take advantage of the time he’s given us. We often feel the need to fill every spare moment with TV, Facebook, or iPhone games, but our Good Shepherd wants us to take time to be quiet and still. That’s what David says in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

The thing about sheep is that they won’t drink from rushing water. If they’re going to get hydration, they need a still, quiet pool to drink from.

And it’s the same with you and me, except for one difference: we think we can drink from a raging river, so we keep trying.

You go to to the mall to buy a pair of pants, and you’ve got to choose between regular fit, and classic fit, and loose fit… then you’ve got to choose between plain front and pleated front, and we haven’t even got to choose the color yet! You go home and flip on the TV, with your nice digital cable package. You settle in to watch a new show, but halfway through you start wondering… what’s on those other 999 channels? So you start flipping through, and find something you like, but then you start worrying again… am I missing something on ESPN? What about Discovery channel?

All of this decision-making is giving you a headache, so you go down to Longs to buy some aspirin. Only thing is, once you get there you have to decide if you want aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen? Name-brand or generic? 350 milligrams or 500? Caplets, capsules, or tablets? Coated or uncoated?

The world around is blasting us with a firehose of things to try, things to experience, things to choose, things that will make us better and happier. We  can try sipping from a firehose all day long, but most of the time we’ll still end up thirsty.

1000 years after David wrote this Psalm, Jesus used the same analogy of water when he met the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman was there looking for physical water, but Jesus told her:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. – John 4:13-14

We’re all looking for water. All of us have thirsty souls that have been sucked dry by the world around us.By the painful experiences we’ve had, by the pressure of trying to live up to our world’s definition of success, by the people who’ve deliberately hurt us. So the real question that Jesus is asking is… where are you drinking from?

Maybe you’re still trying to drink from the firehose. You’re trying to find contentment by buying more stuff. Trying to find security by pursuing unhealthy relationships. Trying to find self-worth by constantly working to top your last achievement. If so, you’re still going to be thirsty at the end of the day.

Which is why Jesus said in John 7, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  That’s where the Good Shepherd wants to take you.