Psalm 23 – He Maketh Me To Lie Down in Green Pastures

June 23rd, 2023 – Post #89

Yesterday, when I posted about my tiny house trailer build, I told you I’d like to share a video I took of the Friends Cemetery, where my mom is buried. It’s such a beautiful setting – especially this time of year, when the sleek cows are grazing in hazy green fields, with the sun setting in the background.

You can click the image below to see the video of the cemetery, which I put up on YouTube:

A video of the Friends Cemetery, where my mom, Beth Purcell, is buried in Wabash, Indiana.

My Mom’s Cemetery Plot

It seemed fitting to me that my mom be buried next to her brother, Danny, who was very dear to her. Danny died on September 18th, 2019 – exactly twenty-seven years to the date that their dad, Woody Miller, passed away.

My mom, Beth Purcell,
is buried next to her
youngest brother,
Daniel Miller.
My dad has ordered a headstone; but it hasn’t been placed yet.

The Friends Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana

The Friends Cemetery is located at 3668 West Millcreek Pike in Wabash County, IN 46992 – just South of the Wabash River. You can click here, to see a Google maps satellite view from above. This time of year, it’s surrounded by green.

Psalm 23

This setting reminds me so much of the Twenty-third Psalm, which was read at my mom’s funeral:

(A psalm of David.)
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:
he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.

Yeah, though I walk
through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table
before me in the
presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house
of the LORD forever.

Psalm Twenty-three, KJV

He Maketh Me to Lie Down

I’ve always thought of that part, “He maketh me to lie down,” as sort of a forced rest – like a parent telling their unwilling child it’s time to take a nap.

And in a lot of ways, I’ve been that unwilling child.

I do not like to rest.

I’ll tell you my reasons in a little bit…

I Think I’ve been Reading that Word “Maketh” Wrong

Maybe I’m kind of slow; but it just hit me today that maybe I’ve been reading “makes” or “maketh” all wrong – instead of a parent forcing rest, perhaps God wants me to recognize that we were created for work and for rest.

After all, we were made in His image, and didn’t He spend one seventh of the first week resting?

Throughout the scriptures, His Word points toward eternal rest.

In the garden, they worked; but they also took time to enjoy God’s Creation.

From the beginning to the end, and a lot of the middle of the Bible points to the concept of rest.

So, I’ve been wondering what it is that makes me fight resting so much?

Should I Be Ashamed to Need Rest?

In a lot of ways, I’ve been ashamed to rest.

I think that runs in my mom’s family.

I don’t ever remember seeing my grandma lying down until she was in her late nineties. She told me then, “My get up and go has got up and gone.”

My mom and Danny both would say again and again, “I’m so tired. I guess I must just be lazy.”

When they were younger, I liked to tease them about taking naps; but as they struggled with cancer, it hurt my heart to hear them speak with embarrassment about needing more rest.

They were both hard workers.

I wanted to somehow assure them that it was okay for them to rest.

I could see that their worth wasn’t based on what they got done in a day.

I wished they could see that for themselves, yet in a lot of ways, I’ve remained blind to being able to see that it’s okay to take a break in the midst of my own exhaustion.

Sometimes I’ve thought when God “makes me to lie down” it’s a form of discipline, because I failed to pace myself correctly – like a marathon runner who should have known better than to sprint.

It’s taken me a long time to clue in to the truth that he “makes me to lie down” is an indicator of how we were created – like a car being designed to get an oil change every three months (or every three thousand miles), and also needing fuel at certain intervals.

We were made for times of rest and rejuvenation.

That’s not something shameful, it’s the way that we were designed.

When I think through the reasons for struggling so much to let myself rest, the core issue comes down to fear.

Why Can’t I Rest?

  • Fear that I will get even further behind than I already perceive myself to be.
  • Fear of having to face my thoughts and struggles, instead of distracting myself with tasks.
  • Fear that other people will think I’m lazy.
  • Fear that I will miss out on something.
  • Fear that I am wasting time.
  • Fear that if I’m not accomplishing something, I will be resented.
  • Fear of being less worthy, if I’m not productive.
  • Fear of getting even more stressed, if I don’t get ahead.
  • Fear that others will surpass me, and I’ll be left behind.
  • Fear that I will miss opportunities, if I don’t act immediately.

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

As my mind goes back to Psalm Twenty-three, it also returns to the truth found in First John 4:18, which states, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth in not made perfect in love.”

It seems ironic, that in the record of Creation, we see that God is both creative, and a God who rests. We were designed in His image, and yet, how many of us struggle with fear in those two realms?

We fear being creative, and we fear resting.

I know that right now, those are two of my biggest struggles.

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between them as I wonder how I ought to be spending my time.

Do I need to be writing and working on my trailer or taking a break from everything to really catch up on rest after taking care of my mom?

Sometimes it feels like all three options are a total waste of time.

There is a risk in the creative acts of writing and constructing a tiny house, because maybe all my efforts will come to nothing, and I’ll fail to finish anything of worth.

There is a risk in taking time to rest, because my To Do List seems to keep growing exponentially – mostly because I keep coming up with new ideas.

It’s funny that the three main things I feel called to do in this season (writing, working on my cargo trailer, and resting), are the things I’m most afraid to face.

Psalm 23 reminds me that I need to keep trusting this is the path God is leading me along – for His name’s sake, and I don’t need to fear resting or being creative.

View from the Friends Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana
Slowly, but surely, I can feel my soul being restored, especially when overlooking peaceful scenes like this one, from the cemetery, here in her hometown.

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Walking “through the valley of the shadow of death” with my mom was difficult; but I can see that “surely goodness and mercy” have followed both of us all the days of our lives.

I am so thankful my mom is no longer suffering from pancreatic cancer.

It was a hard journey, especially during this last year while she struggled with spinal stenosis, dementia, bronchitis, neuropathy, and a number of other issues that went beyond her battle with cancer.

I’m so grateful to know that my mom is finally at rest.

I know the LORD did a lot to prepare my heart for this season.

Sometime soon, I do hope to share the story about “the bluebirds” I mentioned in the video above. It was one of those moments, when I just knew that my Heavenly Father was tenderly preparing me to face the days to come.

May He comfort your hearts as well. Thank you for supporting my rambling.

Much love, Jody

Jody

I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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