Green Pastures and Still Waters

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Rest

Psalm 23:1-3a – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul…”

As I write, I am sitting beside a vast ocean, and the only sound I hear is the calming waves as they crash and lap against the sandy shore. It’s so peaceful here, and as I enjoy this time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I am reminded of the value of rest. It’s not something that I engage in nearly enough, but the Word alludes to its importance several times. God rested on the seventh day in the Creation story (Genesis 2). David speaks of how God lovingly leads him beside still waters…makes him lie down in green pastures to rest and restore (Psalm 23), and even Jesus regularly sought to separate Himself from the crowd to rest, recharge, and reconnect with God (Matthew 13, Mark 1, Mark 3, Luke 5, Luke 6). It’s easy to get so caught up and overwhelmed by the daily demands and responsibilities of our lives that we forget to take a moment to breathe, to regroup, to turn off our brains and recharge our batteries. It’s a vital component of self-love and self-care that enables us to store up the vital spiritual nutrients we need (joy, peace, love, etc.) to go about the business of our lives.

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Life can get a little crazy sometimes, but it’s the moments “by the still waters,” those “walks along green pastures,” that give us the lift we need to face the crazy head on and bring peace and serenity to the soul.

I’m feeling just that right now as I listen to the waves crash and set my eyes upon the vastness of the sea. I feel God’s presence and am in awe of the beauty of this little piece of heaven he has created on earth.

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Love Thyself

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LOVE

Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.”

Valentine’s Day and the month of February have come and gone, and throughout the month, there were numerous conversations about romantic (eros), brotherly (philos), and godly (agape) love; but I realized this morning that sometimes, we overlook one of the most important loves of all—love of self! Far too often, we neglect this valuable step—loving ourselves—which I think is actually second only to loving God in the Love Process. The first step in this process, always, is experiencing God’s love—receiving His adoration of you with your full heart and understanding that His love for you is unending and without measure. When we accept this love, internalize it, and start to see ourselves through God’s loving eyes—flawed, but fearfully and wonderfully made—we begin to see ourselves differently and position ourselves to experience the phenomenon of self-love…of seeing ourselves for who we really are—children of a loving God—and accepting ourselves (the good and the bad) as we continue this journey of learning and growing and evolving into the people that God created us to be.

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There are so many voices around us—from images in the media to toxic people that we may have allowed into our inner circle—telling us that we’re not good enough and causing us to doubt ourselves, deride ourselves, fall out of love with ourselves…And when we don’t love ourselves, it becomes so much harder to engage in loving relationships with anyone outside of ourselves. It is only when we remember who and WHOSE we are that we can block out the negative voices and find peace in knowing and loving ourselves for who we are.

The other danger is one of simple neglect. I see so many people in ministry and giving professions (myself included) who become burnt out and exhausted because they devote so much of themselves to others that they neglect taking care of themselves until they become broken down or ill because their hearts, minds, and bodies just can’t take it anymore. So many of us place such a primary focus on loving and serving the people around us, that we forget that loving and caring for ourselves actually equips us to better care for the people in our lives. The Word says to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). It’s one of the great commandments given to us by Jesus Himself; and it implies that we must learn to love ourselves first before we can apply that same level of love to the other people in our lives.

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So, as we continue to prioritize loving God, loving our family, and loving our neighbor each day, let’s be intentional about showing ourselves a little love—consider treating yourself to a quiet, restful night at home; a day out at the spa; or a little time engaging in that beloved hobby that used to bring you such joy! When you take the time to take care of and love yourself, you refill your tank and are better prepared to then go about the business of loving and serving others.

Make it a point to take care of yourself today and every day!

Shine your light!

Thoughts, reactions, or testimonies? Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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