It used to be that whenever I read Psalm 23:2 (“He makes me lie down in green pastures”), I was confused why God would need to make me lie down in green pastures. Make me? It’s not that God forces you and me against our will to lie down and rest. What God, our Good Shepherd, is promising is that his protection will surround us so we can pasture, so we can rest even in this broken life.
Without a shepherd watching the sheep, they are basically gigantic balls of cotton candy with slow-moving legs. Sheep have zero natural defenses against animals who eat them. No quills. No sharp claws. No shell. No antlers. No stinky skunk smell. In fact, when sheep get really scared, their legs freeze up; they fall over and become lunch.
Because of their lack of defense systems, sheep will not lie down unless they are free from all fear (friction with other sheep, pesky flies and parasites, predators, and free from hunger). When these needs are met, they lie down peacefully.
It is nearly impossible to rest when you have friction with others or are pestered by problems and hungry for contentment. If that’s you, if you aren’t resting, refocus your relying. In order to lie down in peace, don’t count sheep but count on your Shepherd, Jesus. He protects you from evil. He provides grace and guidance so you can rest.
Continually refocus yourself on Jesus and rest well in the pasture of his protection.