We Don’t Lie Down in the Valley

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“Salvation isn’t a prayer I put in my pocket and hope it works when I’m in trouble. It’s a new way to live.”

Runner_800I was praying with a friend the other day who struggles with what I—and most of the people I know—also struggle with: procrastination. (This could explain why I’m leaving this article to a late night encounter… but back to the point.) While praying through the classic Psalm 23 (the Lord is my shepherd), it struck us that while one of the verses talks about the valley of the shadow of death, the context of the verse is actually movement—passing through, moving through, getting through, etc. The movement of the Psalm suggests that we move too, through even our darkest times. We don’t lie down in the valley. No, we get up and keep walking.

Another verse I often use for comfort, Psalm 91:1, says that we can rest in the shadow of the Almighty, the One who is leading us. In the scorching heat of the desert (context of the verse) lies shade we can rest in, follow, and remain in to find relief in the midst of the journey. Again, God is leading us and we are following Him. Through that process, we can exchange our worry for His rest, peace, and presence.

My husband shared at an event we spoke at a few weeks ago, speaking on the classic invitation that Jesus gives in Matthew: “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” To my surprise, instead of landing there, he focused on the verse that follows: “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Wait. What does a yoke (think oxen working in a field) have to do with rest? How can they be related?

Then these things flooded my mind:

  • The people of God had to fight for their rest. (The Promised Land had to be conquered.)
  • When the people of God finally got to the Promised Land—the land of rest—they had to do something for the first time in a generation: they had to grow their own food. Rest involved movement.
  • When Jesus felt overwhelmed, He added to His schedule. (All night of prayer anyone?)
  • Salvation, and the way it is talked about in the Bible, always involves movement. It is a way to walk, a place to enter, a new way to live.

Trouble comes when we make salvation a static thing, and when we believe the world is about how to solve our fatigue.

Culture says, “Feeling tired? Try doing nothing today. Watch some TV and hang around.”

This might be my own issue, but have you ever felt better after one of those days? Now, don’t get me wrong. Having a day off is a fine idea , especially if it involves soul refreshing time. The Sabbath was meant to create a rhythm of refreshment and was always a part of the promised life, but we often embrace a life of entertainment, mindless activities, and lazy postures, buying the lie that those things will give us rest.

And. They. Don’t.

Feed laziness and you breed more. Feed lonely bitterness and you get even more lonely. We reap what we sow.

So, what am I saying? Stand up. Get up. Right now. Do something. Write. Dream. Play. Go for a long walk in a beautiful place. Take your kids on a wagon ride. Go to the gym. Read your Bible. Pray. (Try praying on your knees just for fun).

Don’t lie down. Don’t do it. The Bible says to be prepared because the enemy roars around looking for someone to devour. Be prepared for a battle, and fight for your rest. Real rest—the spiritually-filled kind. Add a whole night of prayer to your already packed schedule. I dare you. Find a posture that commits to changing the world. I’m literally humming the classic, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, and nothing’s gonna keep me down” as I write this.

Many of us have had our hits. And the enemy hits hard. But this is a battle. We are in a war, and we have got to keep moving. Salvation isn’t a prayer I put in my pocket and hope it works when I’m in trouble. It’s a new way to live. So, let’s live it. Walk out what you already know. Live what you’ve already learned. Stop learning more until you’ve actually implemented what you already know.

Stand up. Get ready. Let’s go.

_____________________

Image credit: Italy Chronicles

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