FAITHFUL WORDS Dr. Kenneth L. Faught Finding Solace “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;…” (Psalm 23:2). America began as an agrarian economy, but since the industrial revolution that beginning has become a distant memory. Hardly anyone today was born in a log cabin, and most did not grow-up on farms. That may make the Twenty-third Psalm less meaningful to us than it was to earlier generations. Have you ever lay down in green pastures, watched stars fall on a summer night, relaxed beside a waterfall or gently flowing stream, sat on top of Mt. LeConte, or basked in the glory of creation? The text from Psalms raises the issue of solace – comfort – peace. The message is that God cares for us and wants us to find rest, peace, consolation. The Good Shepherd is the Great Physician who seeks what is best for our souls. In the New Testament this comfort/consolation is linked to the work of the Holy Spirit – the One who is “called alongside” to help us in the “noonday sun” of our labors. God’s comfort is implemented in two ways. First, he “makes us to lie down”. The word David uses means to “kneel” – to rest in the presence of our Creator. A prominent pastor in Texas who had overworked himself ended-up in the hospital suffering from exhaustion. A colleague came to see him and said, “Charles, I have one thing to say – He makes us lie down.” David, no doubt, remembered something called the “Sabbath” – a time to rest, remember, worship, and be refreshed. The Psalmist also states, “He leads me.” The specific image is that of being transported. What are your plans for today? By contrast, where would the Lord “transport’ you or lead you? His desire is for us to find the still waters. This doesn’t mean stagnant water, but gentle flowing streams of refreshment. David and all of scripture seek to remind us that God’s solace is often imitated but never duplicated. The world is full of cheap substitutes for real “recreation”: amusement, medication, and diversion, mostly. The “real thing” is to know that “The Lord is my shepherd” and he both “leads me” and “makes me to lie down.” We sometimes hear that one brand is “just as good” as another. Maybe so. But there’s nothing “just as good as Jesus.” Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.