The Importance of Lying Down
He makes me to lie down in quiet pastures – Psalm 23:2
The last thing you want to hear as a kid is someone telling you it’s time to ‘lie down’. In fact, it’s the last thing in the world you want to do – there’s so much fun to be had by staying up!
As God’s children however, ‘lying down’ seems to be part of the rhythm he has for our well being. David, the psalmist, had it right there at the top of the description of God as our shepherd – ‘ he makes me to lie down in green pastures’ Psalm 23:2
There are many different interpretations of what it means to ‘lie down’. Last week the Lord showed me an additional way to understand these words. God spoke to me while I was sitting in the stands at the Agrium building during the Calgary Stampede. Below me the ‘Stock Dog’ competition was under way and it wasn’t too long before I heard the words ‘lie down’ called out continually as part of the action happening below.
The stock dog competition works like this: at one end of the arena a farmer and his dog stand patiently while three sheep are released at the other end of the rink. The sheep huddle together without much ambition to explore this larger ‘pen’ they have been released in to. Through a series of whistles by the farmer, the dog responds to its master in herding the three sheep through a series of obstacles until the sheep are led into a pen near the farmer and a gate is closed behind them. In this competition four minutes was allowed for the task to be completed – with the dog being the star of the show.
By placing itself strategically behind or beside the sheep whom for the most part, travel together, the dog can dictate the speed and direction in which the sheep will travel together. The dog is wired and highly energized for this task – it seems to come so naturally! It’s obvious to the audience that hours spent training the dog by its master has occurred. Remember that sheep don’t have the highest IQ in the animal kingdom and often don’t do what makes sense in the process of the competition; therefore the farmer often calls out to the dog: ‘lie down, lie down’, telling his four legged companion to literally lie down – be still and quiet until things settle down related to the landscape of sheep making progress towards the pen.
My observations revealed that the farmer used his lie down signal when the dog was getting out of sync with the pace necessary to complete the task at hand. The dog’s passion nor obedience was never in question. But from time to time an order to ‘lie down’ was called out and even ‘barked’ at the dog, not only allowing the dog to recalibrate its pace, but for the farmer, who at all times seemed in total control of bringing the sheep ‘home,’ to complete the challenge within the time frame provided.
The soft and tender voice of the ‘Good Shepherd’ reminded me of a spiritual principle based on what I was watching unfold before me:
Having God encourage, or even exhort me, to ‘lie down’, whether in green pastures or busy pastorates might be the very necessary ‘time out’ to recalibrate my life and field of vision before re-engaging in the task of leading lost souls towards the Good Shepherd. It’s also a good reminder that all the ‘running around’ we do in ministry accomplishes nothing of value unless it is carried out with a listening ear to the Lord, our Shepherd, as well – a shepherd whose heart is bent towards seeing his sheep brought into the fold.
Reflection by District Coach Tim Beadle