The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
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 overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.—Psalm 23:1-6

I’ve been staring at a blank page for 45 minutes.

Some weeks writing my Thursday Thoughts is a joy.  Some weeks I have a clear idea of what I’m going to say, and it’s simply a matter of writing it down.  Other weeks, I’m not sure I have any thoughts to share with the world.

Usually, when this is the case, there is a reason, and usually that reason has to do with the fact that I am not a machine.  No one is.  No one can simply flick a switch and produce spiritually profound thoughts at will. Writing an article like this one, or preparing a sermon, or leading a Bible study, is not as simple as writing a grocery list.  Those things have to come from somewhere inside of us.  And yes, ultimately that somewhere (or Someone) is the Holy Spirit, but since He’s using a human vessel, a Bible teacher has to have a well to draw from.  If I find that I have nothing to say, no thoughts about life with God, that often means the well is running dry.

Sometimes it just means I haven’t had any quality time in the Word and in prayer that day.  Other times it means it’s been a tiring season, and I’ve been giving out a lot, and I don’t have a lot left to give.  At least, not until the well fills up again.  And this is one of the beautiful things about God: our God is the great Refresher of our souls.  Usually, He doesn’t do this with a snap of His fingers while we run around like crazy people, although He certainly could.  His preferred method for re-energizing us is rest.  It’s hard to be filled up when you’re constantly giving out.  This is why God created the Sabbath, and holidays, and summer vacation.

Many of us are familiar with Psalm 23; I memorized the King James version as a child.  In this Psalm, David compares God to a good shepherd, who makes His sheep lie down in green pastures.  Does your picture of God include the fact that sometimes He makes us lie down?  It’s silly that we have to be told to do this, but some of us need it spelled out: “Lie down.  Stop moving.  You need to be restored.”

David also says that God leads him beside quiet waters and refreshes his soul.  God knows we all need moments of calm.  For me and my family, the month of May is a time when moments of calm are few and far between.  We are basically sprinting to get to June.  Once we cross that finish line, we hope to rest.  In the meantime, we look to God to give us the refreshment we need day by day.

A few verses later, speaking of God’s abundant blessings in His life, David says that his cup overflows.  What does this mean?  It means his heart is full of gratitude and peace, which are things that can only come from God.  Working hard to earn more money will not cause your cup to overflow.  Staring at a screen to escape from reality will not cause your cup to overflow.  An overflowing cup is the result of following our Good Shepherd on the paths He knows will refresh our souls.  It comes when we sit still long enough to rest, and to receive from Him the good things He wants to pour into our lives.

Sitting still doesn’t come naturally to me, and it’s not something my everyday life gives me many opportunities for, especially in this season.  But my prayer this week, for me and for you, is that we would remember to rest, and experience the blessings that only come when we do so.

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;

 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.—Isaiah 40:29-31

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