Lord, you’ve short-changed me

From Return to Your Rest.

Reservoirs photo

© Verity Cridland

Ages ago, a shepherd-turned-king named David sang,

The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. (Ps. 23:1)

Centuries later, Jesus echoed and enlarged on David’s words. He said:

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. I am the Good Shepherd. (John 10:1011 MSG)

In other words: “I am the Lord your shepherd; you lack nothing. Quite the opposite, actually.”

Peter the apostle affirmed that it’s true:

By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. (2 Peter 1:3 CEB)

Ages ago, the tribe of Joseph sang a very different song. I’ve sung this song on occasion – okay, on a lot of occasions. Maybe you have too. It goes something like this: “Lord, what you’ve given us isn’t enough.”

Joseph’s descendants were numerous, but no more numerous than some of the other Israelite tribes. Yet, when Joshua divided up the land of Canaan in the way God specified, Joseph’s clan complained that their allotment was too small. In reality, they despised the good land they’d been given because: (a) it had hills, where crops wouldn’t necessarily thrive; (b) it had lots of forests, which would take lots of work to clear, and (c) it had plains, where Canaanites with iron chariots lived.

Joshua told Joseph’s tribe (my paraphrase): “You lack nothing. The area that you can easily occupy may be small. But that should motivate you to rise up and work. And because you have strength and numbers, and because God himself has given you this land, you can clear it and possess it” (see Josh. 17:14-17).

Always, these three things create deep unrest:

  • a sense of lack,
  • the feeling that God hasn’t treated you fairly,
  • the fear of not having enough.

So, I ask you: What do you think you lack? In what areas do you fear not having enough? What has God done that makes you want to shout, “Not fair!”

With those things in mind, which song will you choose to sing? The song of Joseph’s clan? “The Lord has short-changed me. I don’t have what I need.”

Or, David’s refrain? “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (NLT).

Return to Your RestToday, I remind myself once again: When the Lord Who Shepherds is your keeper, protector, nurturer and provider, you lack nothing. You have all you need to be who he created you to be and to live out his purpose for your life.

As you rest in that truth, he shows you what you do have. He teaches you how to use it. He multiplies what may seem small. He empowers you to possess the abundance that Jesus gave everything to provide for you.

Adapted from Return to Your Rest, © 2016 Deborah P. Brunt

Song of rest

Beside still waters

Return to Your Rest is on sale March 1-7, 2017, for $.99!

I hadn’t previously thought it. But suddenly I knew: Psalm 23 is a song of rest.

Two years later, I learned: In the same time frame as my Spirit-to-spirit “suddenly,” Christian recording artist Matt Maher wrote a song, saying the same thing.

For me, the revelation happened in January 2014. It was a sunny Sunday morning in a valley-of-the-shadow season.

For years, I had been learning what it means to answer Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” Searching the Scriptures, I had explored the lives of eight people who came to Jesus while he walked the earth. I saw how rest looked for each.

But more, I saw the amazing ways the life of each intersected with mine. I saw what they who lived so long ago can teach us today about our deep need to return to rest, and the ways Christ provides it.

Writing what I was learning, I had drafted most of a book manuscript titled Return to Your Rest. However, I had no clue how to end it. What would tie together all I had learned about the rest God gives and the different ways it looks?

I’ve read or heard the world’s best-known psalm countless times. Yet, that bright-but-dark Sunday, when I read Psalm 23 in the New Living Translation, I saw what I had not previously seen. The entire psalm is David’s yes to God’s rest. In that same instant, I realized: The psalm beautifully summarizes what rest looked like for the New Testament women and men whose lives God had used to teach me so much. It could be my yes to rest too.

 

The past: Eight voices in harmony

Return to Your RestListen, as eight who said yes to God’s rest sing David’s song.

First up, Nathanael, who walked away from the status and power he might have had as a religious leader in order to follow Christ. He sings robustly: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

Next, we hear the voices of two who once were demonized – Mary Magdalene, in duet with the man called Legion, or in The Message paraphrase, “Mob.” They sing in wonder: “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

Now, the soprano and alto of Mary and Martha ring out: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Then Zacchaeus and Matthew, the two tax collectors who invited Jesus for dinner, announce in tenor and bass: “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.”

And Mary, the mother of Jesus, sings with joy: “You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

Finally, in four-part harmony, all their voices rise: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

The present: Matt Maher sings “Rest”

One other thing I didn’t know in January 2014: I still had more to experience before I could finish and publish Return to Your Rest. Now, two years later, the book ends by meandering through David’s Song of Rest, embracing aspects of rest that Psalm 23 reveals.

This spring, while preparing to release Return to Your Rest as an e-book, I had another “suddenly” – a nudge to see if any contemporary songs focus on rest.

To my surprise, just a cursory search on iTunes revealed six different songs, each by a different Christian artist, and each titled, “Rest.” All but one of the songs was recorded in the last five years. What’s more, the six songs correspond in a rather startling way with the three sections of my book: “Resisting Rest,” “Snapshots of Rest” and “Song of Rest.” So I’ve happily included links on the corresponding pages of the e-book. (You’ll find a YouTube video of Matthew West’s “Rest” in my recent post, “Sort of like frog gigging.” I suspect some of the other “Rest” videos will appear in future Return to Your Rest posts.)

Most stunning to me of all: “Rest” by Matt Maher is his rendering of Psalm 23. Matt’s song is copyrighted in 2015, but as the YouTube video below reveals: He was already performing it in March 2014.

So, hmm, no less than six contemporary Christian songs reveal: We need rest, and God himself is calling us to receive it. He’s reminding us: Psalm 23 is a song of rest – a song David started, but anyone can sing.

Listen as Matt Maher echoes David’s psalm. Maybe this very ancient and very contemporary song can express your yes to God’s rest too.

Parts of this post are adapted from Return to Your Rest: A Spirit-to-spirit Journey, © 2016 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.

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Return to my rest

Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 CEB)

Return to Your RestIn December 2013, I had written all but one chapter of a book manuscript exploring Jesus’ wonderful, but seemingly impossible, invitation, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” I knew the thrust of the final chapter, but had no words even to begin it.

After reviewing and editing the other chapters, I set the manuscript aside for the holidays, thinking I would write the closing chapter in January 2014 and have a new ebook published by spring. It would be titled, Return to Your Rest.

January 6, 2014, my father went in for a heart cath. January 13, he underwent open heart surgery. February 1, he died. At his passing, I wrote two posts that expressed the grief and acceptance I felt: “Homecoming” and “Eulogy.”

I didn’t know that the months ahead held far more than natural grief. For my father’s death triggered a series of events that turned my world upside down.

I’ve had other hard years, mind you, but 2014 proved the darkest yet. Strangely, as the year progressed, I had a strong sense that God was birthing something – almost as if I myself had re-entered the womb. Along the way, I could see glimpses of profound things the Lord was accomplishing. But that didn’t mean it felt good.

Most definitely, the rest I’d enjoyed previously had fled. For months, my thoughts and emotions ricocheted everywhere. At the same time, the Spirit of Christ continually said to my spirit:

The source of your rest lies in him who has invited you and to whom you have come. He has not forsaken you. His rest will return, if you do not give up but rather press in with Jesus to go through.

As the months of 2014 passed, I didn’t even try to revisit my manuscript or to start that elusive last chapter. I dared not return to my book until I had returned to my rest.

By the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, I had begun to see light and to feel lighter. Once again, I started reading and meditating on the psalm that, a year earlier, God had showed me would form the heart of that last chapter. It’s Psalm 23, David’s song of rest.

As I pondered and waited before the Lord, words began to flow again, along with the release to write them. At last, I saw what God the Spirit was showing me in this beautiful song.

What I had gained in the interim wasn’t so much new insight, mentally, as it was new awareness in my inmost part. Having walked the valley of the shadow in 2014, I can now sing David’s song from a deeper, richer place.

Life’s struggles and battles will continue, of course. And there may be other seasons when rest seems to have permanently fled. But now, from experience, I can say to myself and to you:

No matter how completely God’s rest seems to have disappeared from your life, he still holds it out, and he makes the way for you to return.

This week, I wrote the last chapter of my soon-to-be book. Once again, I’m singing a song of rest.