Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Step Out of the Traffic

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nation, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge”. (Ps. 46:10,11)

A couple of other Bible translations say it this way.
Our God says, "Calm down, and learn .. (Centemp. English)
God says, "Be quiet and know .. (New Century)
Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me .. (Message)

Be still . . . Calm down . . . Be quiet . . . Step out of the traffic! No matter what translation I read this verse from, it comes down to “me” and what I am doing and it tells me this one thing. “God says . . . be quiet – calm down – be still – step out of the traffic . . . and know that He is God, that He is with me and that He is my refuge!

I must admit that the past few years of my life have been quite overwhelming at times. I have had some very draining times, some times of hard questions, times when there seemed to be absolutely no answers, times of physical, mental, and emotional overload. I’ve had times of weariness of body, mind, and soul – when I was just simply “tired”!

Have you ever been there? Have you ever been in a place where you just needed some protection and strength to draw upon? Life can sometimes be overwhelming – major life changes, whatever they might be, can do this to us. But we can trust God’s Word to be true and know that God says - He will be with us, He is our refuge, He is our God.

In the midst of all that life gives me I sometimes have to remind myself of this verse - of these words – be still, calm down, be quiet, step out of the traffic! I sometimes forget and get busy - busy talking, working, doing things, having fun, worrying about the grass that needs mowed, the gutter that needs fixed, the “how’s” and “when’s” of getting these things done – the list could go on and on! You know how it is, there is always something pressing us. But again and again I’m reminded to be still, calm down, step out of the traffic, and be quiet!

If you have read my blog, you no doubt know that I started the year trying to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Some days I make it, some days I’m a little short, and some days I go beyond the 10,000 steps!! Lately my walking schedule has been interrupted by all of this rain we are getting. I’ve been amazed at the number of times I will start out with the sun rising and shining through the trees and then after I get back home the rain will start! Thank you, God – You are my refuge!! Other times I have to walk in the evening. But “weather” early morning or later evening I have come to look forward to this special part of my day. Yes, I did start walking to get in shape and loose some weight and I’m thanking God for every pound lost and for helping me get healthy! Believe me, after two knee replacements it feels wonderful to be out there walking every single mile every single day!

But more important than that – I’ve come to enjoy that hour of my day because it has become my quiet time – my “calm down time” – my “be quiet time” - my "step out of the traffic time". I’m walking every day with God who is with me and I see, feel, and sense the many ways He is exalted in this earth of ours. I take it all in as I walk - I feel the soft breeze blowing against my face, the sunshine, the clouds, the sprinkles of rain, the sunrises full of His special palette of “sunrise colors”, the birds singing, the smell of the flowers, the squirrels running from fence to tree, the ants at work along the sidewalks busily going in and out of that little pile of dirt – their ant-hill. Too many sights and sounds to put down here but God brings so many things to my attention as I walk and I know that HE IS WITH ME – HE IS MY REFUGE!

I love music – I enjoy listening to music as I walk. Max Lucado once shared something about music. He talked about playing the piano and how you can pound out every note, add runs and arpeggios, add triplets, trills, accidental notes, etc. but you can’t forget the rests that are written into the music. Sometimes amongst all of those notes written on the sheet there comes a “rest” where everything stops – all music pauses – it is quiet for that one rest and then it begins again. That rest is important. That pause in the music adds depth, dimension and dynamic to the music that follows. That one little “rest” builds for the remainder of the song making the music more distinct and sweeter after the rest . Ps. 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord”. That is kind of like a “rest”. Take time to wait, take time to be still, take time to calm down, take time to step out of the traffic, take time to be quiet, take time to rest . . . to do nothing – like the little black "rest" on that piece of music.

When you are weary and need a “rest”, a place of refuge, be encouraged and know that God is with you – just “wait” for He is your strength and your refuge! “Be still and know that I AM God” Ps. 46:10
As you walk through your day-to-day routine and life seems to be swirling around you – stop – be still – wait – do nothing – calm down – step out of the traffic . . . and don’t forget to “rest”!! Then continue on and enjoy the music this life and God sends your way! Take time to really look, listen and hear it – it is for you! God is with you and He is orchestrating a very special symphony just for you . . . TODAY!

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