Looking back through my kaleidoscope of memories I see myself gazing out the west window of our former home, where we lived for about thirty-five years, raising children, a garden, dogs, cats, a horse, quail, raccoons, owls, deer, the neighbor’s chickens, frogs, a huge toad, and our very own Canadian goose. On a three-quarter acre lot, the back half of the property was lush and green, full of bee-loving clover and pasture grass, watered by rain and flood irrigation. It was a haven for nature’s creatures, complete with trees here and there to supply needed shade, and a pond my husband dug to collect the overflow of abundant water other irrigators let go unused, our home near the end of the lateral. We had green pastures and still waters, the vision I have in my mind when I think of those very peaceful places promised in Psalm 23.
Recently I watched an interview with Steve and Debra Cleary of Revelation Media speaking with Shaunti Feldham, author of Find Joy. Listening to their conversation brought another perspective to the meaning of “green pastures.” In doing research for her book Shaunti learned that green pastures in the arid hillsides of Israel are much different than our western pastures of lush, abundantly watered green spaces. Envision a shepherd leading his flock of sheep in rocky, dry landscape. As the flock follows the shepherd, step by step, notice here and there a sheep lowering its head towards something between the hard rocks. These dry, hard landscapes are the “green pastures” of Psalm 23. For as the air moves over the hillsides moisture condenses and trickles down between the rocks, providing needed water for small green plants to grow. The sheep are not rolling in clover. No, they are walking one step at a time behind their shepherd, finding provision along the hard rocky way. Enough provision for each day as they follow, trusting the shepherd to lead them to and through green pastures. Shaunti points out that “trust” is not really trust if we are depending only on what we can see. Trust is having confidence in One who has provided before, and has been found trustworthy to provide again.
As I mulled this in my mind new light began to dawn. In a culture of abundance it is easy to become so tuned to immediately met needs, comfort, and pleasure, that we forget from whence come such blessings. We begin to worship and depend on the blessings, rather than the Provider, the Creator, our Shepherd Who still offers to lead us through life. In just the last few days I have found myself becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the plethora of information available to hone my writing skills. I am like a sheep in knee deep clover, bewildered by so much abundance I know not which way to turn. Least I founder in too rich a pasture, I need my Shepherd to lead me through this lush place! I know I need Him when life is hard. How much I need Him still, day by day, when life seems easy, even overwhelming by the abundance of it all!
This picture of sheep thriving in hard, rocky “green pastures” will long remind me that God never promised us a life of ease. That was forfeited in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve both chose to listen to lies, and follow their own understanding. Yet, like those sheep thriving in an arid wilderness, the Shepherd is calling those who are His own. He desires that none should be lost. He is here, whether life is in a season of ease or hardship. As I enjoy the blessings He provides, may I remember He Himself is the green pasture. No matter in scarcity or abundance, His provision is always sure. Come, dwell in Him.