Drinking from a Quiet Stream
“He leads me beside quiet water.”
– Psalm 23:2b
Sheep will not drink from a moving stream. The water has to be pooled in a calm pond before a sheep will quench their thirst. Some translations of Psalm 23:2b read, “He leads me beside stilled waters…” and this an accurate translation because shepherds would often stack rocks in a fast-moving stream to create a calm pool from which the sheep could safely drink. The waters had been “stilled” by the shepherd.
The number one cause of death in the Israeli desert isn’t heat stroke, starvation, or rattlesnake bites… it’s flooding. Storms in the mountains create a sudden deluge of water, rocks, and debris which rush down through gulleys called wadis, destroying anything and everything in their path. After the flood has passed, pools of water are left behind, but they aren’t safe. The next flood, moments behind the first one could rush through, leaving destruction in its wake. A responsible shepherd knows the danger and leads the flock to higher ground where the water is calm and safe.
The keyword in Psalm 23:2b is ‘leads’. If sheep feels that they know better than the shepherd where to find safe water, their failure to follow the shepherd’s lead could be a fatal mistake. I had been serving a wonderful church for eight years when I felt God prompting me to resign. Humanly that made no sense. I had nowhere to go, and I had a responsible position in a very visible church. But God troubled my spirit until I had to be obedient. When I followed his leading and resigned, I had a tremendous sense of peace, and the next few months of watching His supernatural provision were astounding. Then He led me to a church that could only be described as “calm water.” There I grew spiritually and grew in pastoral leadership skills in an environment that was as stress-free as anything I had ever experienced. The result was twenty years of effective ministry in a place God had selected for me that I never would have chosen for myself.
Is God prompting you to take action that doesn’t seem to be a logical choice humanly speaking? It doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as a move to a new city. It could be a prompting to talk to a friend about Jesus or to take a stand in class against the teaching which defies Biblical truth. It could be that you need to give up a friendship or replace some television or cell phone time with a time of Biblical reflection and meditation. Whatever God is prompting you to do, be obedient. He knows where the calm waters are and He longs to quench your thirst. The first step is to obediently follow His leadership, trusting His direction, and make whatever change He is prompting you to make. You will find both safety and nourishment when you follow the Shepherd.
Pray: Father, I don’t always understand the choices You seem to be leading me to make, but I know I can always trust Your loving heart to guide me in the direction that is best for me. Thank you for loving me so much that You lead me to the place that is safe and calm. Thank you for being such a loving, trustworthy Shepherd! In Jesus’ Name, Amen
John G. Gage
Retired Worship Pastor