1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before mePsalm 23 NIV
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
A king as a shepherd. A god who walks beside you. A Rabbi who turns religion on its head. Jesus, the God who continues to press into the thinness that separates our physical world from the spiritual one. Psalm 23 encapsulates this concept. It captures the true nature of The Creator and who they are and how they take what we know, what we think we know, and what we value, and turns it topsy-turvy.
When I read the opening verses of this Psalm, it strikes me in such contrast to what our 2023 mindset is. I Googled ‘Books on hustle’, and it popped out: About 57,200,000 results (0.50 seconds) That feels like a problem to me. I think if you searched the Bible and Jesus’s words, you wouldn’t find much on hustling. You can find quite a bit on rest, though.
I think God knew we would take a good thing like occupation and turn it into something we try to find love in. How could we not? It feels great to get praise from managers. It’s a wonderful thing to get promoted. How exciting is it to win an award for your hard work? There is nothing wrong with a job well done. I believe as Christ-followers, we are called to try our best, do well, and work with purpose. Working with purpose and working to fill ourselves with love are two different things.
A job will never fill us. It can certainly mask the feelings of emptiness we might feel. Busy work can distract us from loneliness, but a job will never provide for all of our needs. It fills our bank account and perhaps our ego but there is more to life, a lot more to life than those two things. When we face the hard parts of life that are inevitable, a job, a career, a side hustle isn’t going to walk us through the valleys of darkness.
And yet, Jesus will. The God of the universe, the God of me, and you, the Creator of our world will walk with us. Not only will God go with you, but they will also invite you to rest, to eat and drink, to take a nap, to rest in the knowledge that they will provide for your needs. Isn’t that amazing? It is counter-cultural. It goes against what we are taught and believe. How many of us think God helps those who help themselves? There isn’t anything Biblical about that, though. God delights in helping us, filling us, and allowing us to rest when we are at our lowest point. When we are ready to break, unable to help others or ourselves, God loves to step in and give us rest.
Perhaps, instead of giving things up during Lent to cause minor suffering, we should give things up in order to rest. To allow God time to speak through the thinness. To give the Creator time to whisper their love for us and over us. Easter is the culmination of God’s great love for us, can we open our lives to quiet in order to hear the whispers of that love?