We don’t have to look far to see folks who are discouraged and tired and worn in our country. In my little corner of the universe I’m seeing it a lot. I see protestors who are sick with grief. I see cops who are maxed out and broken. I see mommas who are weary from watching and caring for kiddos, all while seeing the world crumble around them. I see friends who are exhausted from life and too many cares to count. I see a culture that is grieving, over stimulated, and emotionally dysregulated. Most of us have never learned how to feel feelings, so when we are forced to confront deep pain we have no resources to turn to.
It’s easy, don’t you think, to want to stick your head in a hole when life feels big and sad? Or on the other side, we’re ready to fight like the world is ending. It’s the fight or flight response giving us a big old reminder that it’s alive and kicking.
This week as I sat in church, also weary from a world imploding, I felt so encouraged by the simple remembrance that Jesus is our good shepherd. Right now our church is doing a series on the Psalms, and this week we read Psalm 23 (NRSV).
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Although so many pieces of this psalm speak to me, the part that feels like a cold drink of water on a scorching Denver day is this: “He restores my soul” (v. 3a). Because in a way, I think this is what we’re looking for—the one who will restore us. We’re like wanderers, asking again and again—where is the one who will make us whole?
I’m so grateful for this reminder about the truest nature of who the Lord is to each of us. I am constantly tempted to be the person who has the answers, or who knows the stats, or the background, or whatever (as if I could fulfill that role, anyway). And yes, I have a part to play in our culture and in “being the change I want to see.” But you know what changes my actions from striving to living well; to living out of wholeness instead of shame?
It is the reminder that He is the restorer. He is the one who fills us up when we’re empty and weary.
Out of this posture, out of connecting and knowing the restorer, I become brave and bold to go into the world and lift up the arms of my brothers and sisters. Because I know where the well of life is, I can take a drink and pass it on to others. Better yet, I'll bring them right up to the edge. And maybe this would be the greatest achievement of my life, to be someone who points to the restorer. Because this I know for sure, my well goes dry fast. I so quickly run out of compassion, empathy, and energy-- but I am grateful to be connected to one who loves each of us so well.
Reader, may we reach for the restorer of our souls. May we find that he is reaching for us too.