Sunday, 14 August 2016

Green pasture challenge by Sue Irving 14th August 2016

Today I am starting a spiritual retreat – and I am pretty nervous. 2 ½ weeks in one place! What will I DO with my time? Can I really afford such a long break? In previous years, August was quiet at work, but this year, there are more people than usual wanting my help and my assistance!

To prepare myself, I have studied Psalm 23. Which speaks of a very different way of life than I am used to.

The phrase that kept getting highlighted for me is verse 2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” This was a bit puzzling. After all, I love the countryside. So why would I not want to lie down in a meadow?

10 out of the 40+ English translations I checked translated the phrase as “He lets me lie down…” Permission to rest makes more sense to me than having to be persuaded or even forced, but I cannot ignore the 30 translations that say that God makes or causes me to lie down.

I have so far not found any bible commentary on this phrase, so I asked my friend Denise what she makes of this verse. She said she doesn’t like green pastures – they are too green for her taste. She is at home in the hustle and bustle of the city. The bigger, the better. (She has just come back from Bangalore - and compared with Bangalore, even London is a village!) She conceded though that she would be willing to relax on a beach by the sea.

So one of the reasons I may need to be made to lie down in green pastures is that I may not think it is the right place for me to get my needs met.

Denise offered another explanation: “You are afraid of missing out on something if you stop.” She is right. I often do wonder whether the grass is even greener just over the hill. The trouble is that once I am over the hill, I see another spot somewhere in the distance that looks worth exploring. And while everyone around me wants to sit and chill for a while, I am off again, checking out what’s over there… and there… and there…

I have also noticed that I am suffering from a bit of a Messiah complex lately. A work colleague has commented that I am like a shepherd protecting the sheep from the wolf. I think that role is already taken by Someone far more competent than I am!

I need to trust that Jesus knows better than I do when, where and for how long I need to rest. Yes, there is likely to be greener grass somewhere over the next hill, my “to do” list is unlikely to disappear and I may long for a sea breeze, but for now my place is in the green meadow, somewhere in the outskirts of Durham, practicing being.

About the author:
Sue Irving is the co-ordinator for the Creative Communicators in PetersfieldSue has co-written a book with her husband John about their experiences when climbing Kilimanjaro. How to conquer a mountain: Kilimanjaro lessons is available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon, with all proceeds going to charity.

1 comment:

  1. I'm spending a couple of days (well part of days really) alone, writing and spending time with God, and it's wonderful, although people keep feeling sorry for me! I could do with longer but grateful for what I have. Thanks God.