“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams” (Psalm 23:2, NLT)
Yesterday I posted Philip Keller’s observations about sheep and the conditions that are required for them to lie down and find rest. The fourth one, free from hunger, leads me to today’s post. The Lord our Shepherd is concerned about our rest. In many ways He’s more concerned about our rest than we are. But he’s also concerned about our renewal and refreshment.
Sheep cannot find their own food source. They have to be led to green pastures where they can find food. Sheep will not drink from running water. Because they can’t swim they are afraid to drink from streams or rivers. In Bible times a shepherd would lead his flock to water so they could hydrate. If the water source was moving, the shepherd would have to step into the stream and use rocks to dam up the water in such a way that it would create a pool of still water. Then, and only then, would sheep drink.
Like sheep, we need spiritual renewal and refreshment for our souls. We are designed by God to give our lives away in service to our communities and the world. We are gifted and have received talents and blessings that afford us what we need to be responsive to the needs we encounter on a daily basis. But we can’t continually give without replenishing our souls. We need to eat and drink so we have the spiritual energy to continue our paths of loving service.
Last week I came across a passage in John’s gospel that reminded me of how we find renewal. Check out the words of Jesus in John 6:
“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever” (John 6:53-58, NLT).
John 6 begins with the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Jesus provision of food made him an instant hit among the masses. But Jesus went on to make a point about food. Food will sustain our physical lives, but in order to find spiritual renewal we must continually feed on Christ. His analogy was missed by his original hearers, but we get the point. The life of Christ, including his ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection is where we find renewal. His body and blood are obviously important to us with regards to our salvation. But it doesn’t stop there. We continue to find our ongoing strength by returning to Christ for refreshment.
For me this is accomplished through the regular practice of the spiritual disciplines. Daily Bible reading, prayer, study, and meditation are simply ways that we can spiritually eat so that our souls can have the strength needed for service.
What are you doing to feed your soul? What are you putting into yourself to find spiritual refreshment? Where are you grazing? Nutritionists have an adage that says, “You are what you eat.” That saying is as true of the spiritual realm as it is the physical realm.