We live in busy times. While I have no doubt that the same could be said throughout history, we do live in an age filled with an overabundance of information and distractions. And yet, in the midst of all of this we are called to find rest and peace in Christ. Some days it seems like an impossible task. There’s so much to do, so many things requiring our attention. And over time we often find ourselves in circumstances asking “how did I get here?”
Recently I was meditating on Psalm 23 and in particular verse 2 where David writes that God “leads me beside still waters.” Often we read this passage and think about finding peace, but I was struck by something a bit different this time.
I don’t know how many of you have ever visited an alpine lake. They are in amazingly beautiful settings. But they are also by and large free of pollution. And when all is still, the water is so clear that you can see to amazing depths with a lot of clarity. Contrast that with the waters we more often see; waters that are murky or moving swiftly so that all we see has become distorted and blurred.
Sounds a lot like life right? Moving swiftly and everything becomes hard to discern or understand. So what does it look like for God to lead you to a place of clarity where you can see clearly?
First, I think that God through His Spirit creates the desire for that place in our hearts and minds. And while we must make the choice to accept this desire, it comes first from His strength. We simply aren’t good at it on our own. So while it is a good thing to set aside time in your schedule, to mark it on our calendars as time for reading scripture and prayer, we still need to ask God to help us to follow through. We need to ask Him to create the desire within our hearts for that time. The enemy will fight it because he does not want us to see clearly. His goal is to distract us with distortions of what is truly taking place around us.
What we find in that place of clarity is more than peace. David goes on to say that God “restores my soul and He leads me in paths of righteousness…” The restoration of our souls, the ability to follow those paths of righteousness come from God leading us to the still waters. They happen when we see the work of God around us with clarity. It’s hard to follow a path you cannot see.
Later in the Psalms we read that the Word of God is a light to our path. Knowing that the Holy Spirit makes scripture alive and active within us is a part of this. And that is ultimately part of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross. He says that he died so that we might receive the Holy Spirit as a guide, counselor, companion and more. It’s his death that lets us find those still waters and come away refreshed and empowered to live lives that speak truth in a world of hurt.
And that is an important thing to understand. Even for David, as he writes, God doesn’t leave him at the still waters. They come with his walk through struggles. We aren’t called to stay in that peaceful place. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. And we can only do that faithfully with restored souls that come from still waters.