1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. PS 23:1-3 KJV
Listening to a recent podcast by John Eldredge, I was struck by the difference between relief and restoration. Eldredge says that relief characterizes the things that we run to for comfort when our soul is distressed, fatigued and worn. Food, sleep, recreation, sex, substances; all these things seem to offer some consolation to our weary souls, but in the end they bring no real lasting peace in and of themselves. Only union with our Creator can bring true restoration to our souls.
In the 23rd Psalm, David expresses his pressing need for the restoration of his soul. The Psalmist recognizes that often the Good Shepherd must make his stubborn sheep to lie down in green pastures. He leads them to the still waters often against their own bleatings of resistance. Soul care is such a neglected discipline in our society today. We tend to burn the candle at both ends and then run to the things of this world for relief, as our souls slowly waste away to wisps and vapors. Often we are preoccupied with many good things while neglecting the best thing. Our souls desperately need the restoration that only the Good Shepherd can provide. Nature also can be something we simply run to for relief, and has no true restorative power in and of itself. It is noteworthy however that throughout scripture God uses wilderness as a major tool of soul restoration. There is something about nature that puts the human soul in a place for a restorative encounter with the living God.
How is your soul doing? Are you running to things for comfort, or are you allowing Jesus to restore your soul? May you find some time in creation to allow the words of your Creator to breathe new life into your inner being.
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