I overheard the world’s most patient mom shopping with her two boys.
The little troop was there to get pillows for their bunk beds. There are only about 50,000 pillows in that particular home store, so selecting just two was pretty ambitious.
“Mommy, the ball! I want the ball! The ball!” I listened as one of the boys called out. “Get the ball! The ball … no, not that one! The owange basketball! The fuzzy wound piwwow…”
Well, you get the idea.
The other little boy must have had his eye on a Michael Jordan pillow because he called out, “No, get Michael Johdan! Give me Michael Johdan! I want Michael Johdan! Mommy! Mommy!”
(And no, those aren’t typos. The little guys couldn’t pronounce their “r’s!” It was adorable.)
World’s Most Patient Mom said, “Dillan, wait, I will get it for you.”
Mom must have pulled Dillan’s brother’s hands from the basketball-shaped pillows while she handed Dillan the Michael Johdan. “Tyler, don’t grab that, I will get it fo…”
Her last word was cut off by a gasp as all the basketball pillows tumbled off the shelf and onto the brothers’ heads. “Mommy! It’s wike a ball pit!”
World’s Most Patient Mom went radio silent. All I could hear from one aisle over were 6- year-old giggles and exasperated mom sighs. I giggled at the little debacle too!
Those boys were spinning out of control over so many pillows to choose from. There were so many fun pillows, and they wanted to touch them all… all at once!
World’s Most Patient Mom wanted them to have pillows, too. She didn’t want to keep her little boys from pillows. But she did want to keep them from being overwhelmed and overloaded with pillows.
“Settle down boys. Settle down,” she said. “Sit on your bottoms right this minute, or we will leave with no pillows at all.” The boys evidently handled the few pillows mom gave them. I didn’t hear anything else so they must have been satisfied.
I was so impressed with World’s Most Patient Mom. She kept her cool and her title. She “made” the boys sit in the cart on their bottoms. She “settled them down” in the basket so they could get what they wanted.
That’s what God does for us. God “makes” us to lie down in green pastures. He “settles us down” in green pastures (Psalm 23:2).
Our lives can feel like that pillow aisle at times—overwhelming, overstimulating, and overloaded.
So many good things before us, so many opportunities, and so many options. We can hunger for all of it. We can suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and so we gulp every opportunity down as if it is our last meal. Just like sheep in a lush green pasture, we don’t often know when to quit!
That’s why our Shepherd settles us down so we can rest and be refreshed. How is it that our Shepherd “makes” us lie down? Well, clearly, a cosmic hand doesn’t reach down from heaven, land on top of our heads, and push! That’s not the way our Shepherd operates.
To understand how sheep are made to lie down and how we are “made” to rest, we have to understand the assumption behind Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 is written by David, a former Shepherd who became a king. He wrote it about and to his King, Who was his Shepherd.
David knew a thing or two about sheep! He knew sheep listened to and for their shepherd’s voice. He knew how much sheep depended on their shepherd for everything they needed. So, it is a natural assumption to expect sheep would follow their shepherd and obey their shepherd.
And, that my dear, is the basis for how we are made to lie down to.
1. We Obey Our Shepherd
For sheep to get their needs met, they have to be willing to follow their shepherd where he leads. Our Shepherd promises to “lead us beside the still waters.” But, sister, it is up to us to follow!
You see, there is no real rest in this life where there is no obedience. When we submit to our Shepherd’s authority, we will follow Him, and He will always lead us to rest.
So, if you are in the crazy middle of the life equivalent of the “pillow aisle,” listen to your Shepherd’s voice. Read His word. Stop and pray. Do what He says.
He may tell you to pause and be still. He may lead you to a place of stillness you don’t even expect. Sure, it may be a day off or a retreat, but it could also be a situation that takes you out of commission for a spell-like illness or a car in the shop.
Keep your heart tuned to hear your Shepherd and then follow Him where He leads. The result will be rest.
2. We Respond to Our Shepherd’s Gentle Nudge
Sometimes the shepherd has to place his hand on a sheep’s back and give her a nudge so she’ll lie down, stop chomping, and start resting. God does that for us too sometimes.
Sometimes His nudge is in the form of a word from a friend who mentions how crazy your life is. Sometimes His nudge is from His voice, His Word. We read Scripture and hear His voice. We pray and feel the nudge of His Spirit.
Sometimes God uses things like headaches or family chaos that keep happening as gentle nudges reminding us to stop, consider, rest, and get refreshed.
So, take advantage of all your Shepherd wants to do for you and give you. He wants to settle you down in green pastures and lead you beside still waters. Listen to His voice, follow His lead, and receive rest for your soul.
Your whole life is not supposed to feel like that chaotic pillow aisle! Pause with your Shepherd today and feel His peace.
This post originally appeared on JenniferRothschild.com and was republished with permission.
Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.