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The Good Shepherd makes me lie down

Surely it’s a given that we all long for “green pastures” — the kind that the Psalmist David wrote about. In my own interpretation, I picture me as a contented sheep following close by the Shepherd’s staff and taking his lead as I follow him to lie down in those fresh, spring-lush pastures. There I am full from grazing and enjoying the warm rays of the sun. The still waters are only a few feet away, so even thirst won’t be a problem.

It’s a beautiful interpretation, but life has taught me that the Good Shepherd doesn’t always satisfy or meet our needs according to that rendering of scripture. Sometimes he makes me to lie down in order to rescue me from my busy-ness addiction. The rush, hurry, scheduling and chaotic lifestyle that can easily trap us in its bondage has to be dealt with in a different mode.

Sometimes my “lying down” has been on my back — totally helpless, weak, sick or exhausted. This “back-side” rest comes from the Good Shepherd too, and in my personal experience has taught me more than when in the “safe and satisfied” pastures.

I’ve never seen a real sheep resting or sleeping on its back, but we humans can, and it’s in that position that God can have and maintain our full attention — especially when we’re made to lie down.

For me, it’s not been a time I would have chosen, but after the lessons I learn on my back, the 23rd Psalm takes on even more meaning. There’s restoration, so I can walk in the following days in the midst of evil and not be fearful (and we are in evil days). I can enter in the sweet fellowship with my Shepherd at a table set for just the two of us — an opportunity busy-ness denies me.

In time, God has always allowed me the blessing of sitting up, getting up and moving forward. My busy-ness has subsided, and I take time to look around me, see God’s handiwork, and enjoy family and friendships with greater depth.

I’m also in a new, God-oriented pace that allows me to look back and see who’s always following me: goodness and mercy. It’s just more confirmation that when my Shepherd “makes” me lie down, it’s always for my good.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camilleanding@gmail.com.