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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Green Pastures Inn and Still Waters Spa

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
he leads me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 23:2 AKJV

 Jesus, the Master Gardner is always surprising me by taking me to a place in my heart’s garden where I have never been before. Today is such a day. As we walk hand in hand he leads me down the winding pathway that presents a never ending parade of gorgeous flowers on both sides of the path. There is electric blue Salvia and sunny yellow Yarrow. I love the sweet, light blue Forget-me-nots, reminding me that Jesus never forgets me. Every step is a joy as the Master Gardner and I walk together and admire his amazing handiwork.
We are now nearing the back fence of the garden. Beyond the fence lies the surprise! It is a beautiful lush emerald green pasture that is dotted with wooly sheep. They are lying down in perfect contentment. This is only possible because they have a good shepherd. Sheep are on the go most of the time because they refuse to lie down unless they are free of fear, friction, torment and hunger. This shepherd has met all of their needs and now they are able to relax and rest.
The Gardner speaks to me and tells me that people are a lot like sheep and he begins to teach me about sheep. He says, “Did you know that sheep require more care than any other livestock?” “Paula, I want you to know that you also require a lot of care.” I reply, “Yes Master, I know I do because my husband always tells me I am high maintenance!” Jesus smiles. He then tells me that sheep are fearful and timid. Sheep are stubborn and do lots of stupid things. Sheep have many bad habits. They run off and get lost and they fall down and cannot get up by themselves. Sheep are helpless animals when it comes to caring for themselves.
The Master Gardner speaks and says, “My sweet daughter, do you see any similarities between you and sheep?” I do not like that question! I frown, I deny the accusation, and I try to talk to him about my friend who has all of those characteristics.
The Master simply moves the conversation back to me and says. “Paula, you need my care. You need REDIRECTION. Let me take your fears, your friction, your torment, and provide for you all that you hunger for deep within your spirit.” He reminds me that life is hard and that he stands ready to help me with all things. The Master says, “Allow me to lead you to the green pastures that are beside the still waters.” “Paula, you need to get alone. You need to get rid of distractions. I want to provide a place for you to relax, soak up nature, meditate on scripture, listen to soft worship music and speak to me about your wants and desires. I want you to tell me what is bothering you. Confide in me what it is you fear, where is the friction in your life, what torments you and what are you hungering for?”
I look a little to the right side of the pasture and I see a beautiful stream. The waters are clear, still, and look cool and refreshing. The Master tells me that the still waters are also important because they will provide relaxation and refreshment. I am completely wowed by this scene. Trust me when I say, this looked to me like the spa of all spas!  The Master informs me that I need to leave the garden and check in to the “Green Pasture Inn and Still Water Spa”. This suggestion thrills me because I already knew that when my rest and relaxation was complete and it was time for me to leave this wonderful place, I knew I would be look’n good and feel’n fine!
As I begin to contemplate going to the spa I begin to take a hard look at my life. I have to admit that it has been rather stressful lately. I have been a little up tight. My responses to others have been less than acceptable. I am stressed and feel a huge need for rest. My mind is cluttered with dates, appointments, and responsibilities. I feel depleted. Indeed, this spa will be the perfect place for me to relax and attempt to find redirection for my life.
While leaning on the fence I begin to dream. Yes, I will go to the inn and when I arrive I will head straight for the “Still Waters Spa.” I will allow the Shepherd to massage my heart until all the tension, stress and anxiety leaves my body. I will release my fears and receive the Shepherd’s peace.  I will confide to him my hurt and pain and receive his comfort. I will confess my sin and experience his forgiveness and grace. This will be a fantastic place where I can read and pray and it will be quiet enough that I can actually hear God whisper amazing truth in my ears and I will feel his arms of love and comfort. Maybe the “Green Pasture Inn” will have a gentle rippling brook running beside it and perhaps I will be able to hear it from my window. I will enjoy a long soak in a bubble bath and then I will take a greatly needed nap. I will relax in the arms of Jesus and fall asleep listening to the sound of a gentle refreshing rain hitting the tin roof of the inn.
Now I am wondering, does God enforce this rest in my life? I would like to suggest that if I need to lie down and I refuse to lie down, this scripture says he makes me lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.” I think that God would rather that I lie down of my own free will, because I love Him and I desire to be in His presence. Yet, I believe that my Shepherd loves me enough to insist that I lie down so that he can get my attention and he leads me to still waters so that he can provide for me what my soul needs. If I am going to mature in my Christian life, I must allow God to redirect my life often so that I do not loose sight of what is really important. Sometimes God brings us to a place of his enforced rest and yet, I still resist and seem to be unable to recognize that this unwanted change in my life could be an opportunity for me to draw near to my Shepherd.

  1. What is going on in your life right now?
  2. Do you feel stress or peace?
  3. Do you think you could benefit from a trip to the “Green Pasture Inn and the Still Waters Spa?”
  4. Where do you most need redirection in you life?

Dear Jesus,
Life has noisy, powerful, rushing rivers with deep and dangerous currents. The roads I travel are rough and full of pot holes. The events of life can throw me into a state of fear and panic in a heartbeat. There are so many sad and upsetting things that happen in life because we all live in a sinful world. If we are not affected at the moment we soon will be. All I have to do is look around and I see pain and suffering in the lives of many of my friends and loved ones. Frankly God, this is life outside of the pasture and far away from the still waters. This is why I am desperate for a Shepherd. God, I need a good shepherd that will take care of me, spend time with me, and give me redirection for my life. I am in frequent need of being repaired, redirected, and refreshed. Thank you Jesus, that you are that Good Shepherd. Please show me the path that you want me to follow. Give me your peace and restore to me the joy of my salvation.
In your name I pray. Amen

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Repairing My "Wanter"

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
Psalm 23:1 AKJV

What are your first thoughts when you think of the 23 Psalm? Often our first thought of this psalm is usually death. Frequently, the familiar 23 Psalm is recited as a psalm of rote that is void of meaning and understanding.
When I spend time with God in the garden of my heart, God teaches me amazing things. This has been true for me in regards to the 23rd Psalm.  This psalm is not only about comfort it is also about our relationship with God.  Even more importantly, it is a pattern for living and it tells us of God’s plan for our spiritual growth and development.  This psalm also explains why we should be able to live a victorious life.
During my quiet time this morning I was remembering that “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  My heart’s response to that thought was, “No God, I don’t think so.” “God I want for plenty!” “God, I want for a new kitchen floor, I want to go on a cruise, I want that gorgeous dress I saw last week when I was shopping, and I want a cleaning lady. In addition to all that I want a day at a spa!! Yes indeed God, I want plenty. I want, I want, and I want some more. God, “I shall not want” is a foreign concept to me. In a world that is full of so many choices and a place where I am inundated with thousands of advertisements and opportunities, how can I help but want?”
My next thought was crystal clear. Paula, you need your “wanter” adjusted. Those things that you desire are all good things but I have not promised you any of those things. When any of those things come to you they come from my hand of blessing. Never because you deserve them but always because I love you!
I began to understand that what I wanted and what I needed were two different things. I began to realize that what I absolutely need is to want for my life what God wants for me. Yes, my Shepherd walks before me and provides for my basic physical needs, but more importantly he wants to provide first and foremost, what it is that my spirit needs. This provision is based on RELATIONSHIP with my personal Savior, Jesus Christ. I need to be in close relationship with my Shepherd so that I can trust him to provide for me. I began to realize that God sees far beyond what I can see or even imagine. He knows what I have needed in the past, what I need today, and what I am going to need tomorrow.
A shepherd marks his sheep so that he knows they belong to him. When we accept Christ we too take his mark. He knows that we belong to him. In fact, he knows us so well he calls us by name.  “He calls his own sheep by name” John 10:3b NIV
God is my provider. He provides not only for my material needs but my spiritual needs as well. In this life God’s provision for me first comes in the form of his compassion, mercy, love, forgiveness, and grace. When I belong to him his provision also includes his comfort, peace and joy, as I learn to trust him for all of my needs. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ allows me to say with confidence, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”


  1. From a materialistic viewpoint what “things” do you want?
  2. Do you want success, money, power, more education, recognition?
  3. What do you want for your spirit?
  4. Is your “wanter” in need of repair?
  5. How do you feel when you know that your Shepherd goes before you making sure that you “shall not want?”

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the personal relationship I have with you. Thank you that I can come before you in complete honesty and ask you for anything I want or need as long as I leave the outcome up to you. Today Lord, because I am human and not divine, I need to clear the cobwebs of my mind by telling you all of the materialistic things I want. I know you are not rude and I know you will listen. In fact you may even put them on a personal “wish list” for me for future blessings. But now God, I want to move beyond my wants and ask you, “What is it that you want for me?” Father, please help me to desire for my life the same things you desire for me. Help me to want the spiritual blessings that you so readily want to give me. You alone know what I will need both today and for all of my tomorrows. I know that your care for me also includes my physical needs as well as my spiritual needs. Lord, I trust you. Today I humbly ask you to please fix, repair, adjust, align, and purify my “wanter”. Please remove my spirit of discontentment and greed and replace it with the joy of knowing that you are providing for me all that I need this day. Thank you that you are my Shepherd and with you I am safe. Father, I am incredibly grateful for all of my many blessings and I trust you to provide for me all that I will ever need. It is my joy to know that it is my spirit that is your greatest concern for my life. It is comforting to know that your most important concern for me is to guide me and refine me so I can enjoy your presence forever. Thank you for loving me so lavishly!
In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.