Several weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a friend. Like many people, the person whom I was speaking with was clearly very busy. He was tied up with family, work and many social responsibilities.To quote a saying from where I grew up, he looked like he had been “rode hard and put away wet.” That’s equine terminology for, “he looked really tired.” My friend looked the way so many people often look: worn down to the nub. As I considered my friend’s situation, my mind eventually wandered to a Psalm that we often read at funerals: Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 (King James Version)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In my mind, I compared the picture of my friend and that of the person in Psalm 23. One looked frazzled, the other at peace. One looked exhausted, the other well-rested. One looked like he needed to go home, the other looked right at home with God. I think you get the picture. The person in Psalm 23 seemed to be in much better condition than my friend.
So, I wondered, how do we end up more like the person in Psalm 23? Well, I think there are many parts to that answer. However, let me share what I think is one of the simplest pieces of the puzzle. My theory starts and ends with just one word: No. The person in Psalm 23, through an act of faith, said no to being in charge of his own life, letting God do that work. He said no to walking another mile, opting to rest in a field. He said no to doing one more job, allowing God to restore him. He said no to fearing the bad in life, choosing to trust that God would help. A series of “nos” to the world added up to a good day for the character in Psalm 23.
We can make those same choices in our lives. We can usually choose to say no to all that the world is offering and asking if we want to find the peace of Psalm 23. It just takes one word. “No.” Well, here in the south, perhaps three words. “No, thank you.” Either way, you might let the people down occasionally, but you will gain your soul and a measure of peace that I have yet to find in what the world offers.