The God who restores Psalm 23:3

By Rev. Landis Brown, DMin

Southside FWB Church, Darlington

The nights were short, and the days were endless, trying to balance the heavy workload of starting a new job, caring for a new child, starting at a new school for the ministry, and pastoring my first church. Sleep was absent, and time with family was nonexistent. Days of endless labor bled into weeks and months of constant toil. Constantly driving the plow and pushing forward with every ounce of energy finally caught up with me.

Amid it all, my heart had taken a beating. Not long into the constant busyness of life, I found myself in the hospital with my heart racing at around 200 bpm. Unfortunately, in those moments, my health nor my walk with God was at the top of my list of concerns. Work still overwhelmed and consumed my mind.  All I could think about was being busy. My mind raced, trying to put the pieces together, thinking, “How would my wife handle a newborn alone?”  I cringed in the hospital bed, knowing I had to prepare two sermons for Sunday.  To add to my stress, it was my first week of classes, with over thirty books to read in the next five months.  I thought, “If only my heart would return to normal, I could be working now instead of wasting my time in a hospital.”

The ministry, my marriage, and life had become a set of goals.  The endless pursuit of perfection weighed heavy on me every day. My body had begun to respond to such a lifestyle by shutting down.  My soul grew weary, and my relationship with Christ suffered.   My prayer life suffered. I thought to myself, “Who has time for prayer?” “Who has time to commune with God?” I was running my life on an empty tank. I had gone too far, trying to drive this ship called life alone for too long. With a weakened vessel from the journey, I was blindly killing myself, and God had to stop me.

Maybe you have been on the run for a very long time.  Perhaps you can’t seem to slow down; maybe you have been working so hard that you are blinded to the fact that your body, soul, and mind are crumbling quickly. Has your prayer life waned, and your walk with God slowed due to the endless busyness that blankets your life?  Maybe you have lost the joy of your salvation and the peace within your heart due to your long journey.

David presents himself in Psalm 23 as a sheep needing a shepherd.  David is weary from the journey.  His joy in his salvation has been crippled and smothered by the constant running for his life.  From one stretch of land to the next, from one cave to another, from one death threat to the next, David finds no rest. He loathes every day because it calls for more running. Have you ever felt that way? You dread tomorrow or Monday mornings because you haven’t had a day’s rest. The previous weekend was spent catching up and has worn you thin. You may have thought you would find rest in your retirement, but instead, you became busier.

True rest, in this busy world, is the rarest of treasures.  Rest is rarer than fine gold, diamonds, and other precious metals.  In this Psalm, particularly verse 3, David tells us that true rest and restoration are only found in God.  God is our source of restoration.  God does not simply slap a Band-Aid on you and me and tell us to try harder.  However, God reconstructs us, restores us, and refreshes us so that we can continue pressing on to the upward call of God.

Verse 3 of this Psalm provides a beautiful phrase; that God as Shepherd “Restores our souls.”  The Hebrew word used for “restore” in this context does not denote being born again from a dead state, as in salvation.  David is speaking to believers and is telling them that their souls, although weary and tired, can be restored.  Life happens, the road has become challenging, and we still fall short daily as believers.  As believers, we also grow tired, and God, through the richness of his grace, does not allow us to run dry or keep us on an empty tank like some do their vehicles.  God, however, restores and refills his sheep with joy in their salvation.

To be restored means to be refreshed, renewed, revitalized, or revived.  There is hope for that Christian who has been on the journey for an extended period and has grown weary.  God, as Shepherd, will restore you and provide both grace and mercy to you so you can continue pursuing Christ.  In eastern culture, when the shepherd notices his sheep have become too weary of moving forward, he picks them up and places them in his bosom.  The shepherd then carries them to the next pasture or stream of water.  God does us the same way; he carries us when the journey becomes too difficult. Read Isaiah 40:12 for further examination of God as a Shepherd who restores and carries his sheep.  May the Lord richly bless you, grace to you, and Peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Author: Stephan Drew

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