The Pursuit of Green Pastures

greenpastureI’ve had Psalm 23 memorized for as long as I can remember. It’s one of those Sunday school staples that just seems to nestle itself in your long-term memory.

You know it:


The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not be in want
He makes me lie down in green pastures

Even though I walk through the darkest valley
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me


I have a vivid memory of a family trip to Durango, Colorado when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. We  had been hiking all day long in search of a lake at which we would finally bust out our brand new fishing rods. The day ended up being a real bummer because the lake was nowhere to be found and exactly zero fish were caught. On the final stretch when just about all hope was lost, we peaked over a cliff edge to find not the elusive lake but a huge field in the valley of two mountains. It was one of those Sound of Music scenes where the wind is whistling through the grass and if you closed your eyes just right, the sun glares would peak through your eyelashes. Bliss. The feeling of laying down in that field after a day of disappointment is up there on my list of favorite things.

When I think of a green pasture, this is what I think of. However, I’m learning that in our walk with the Lord, laying down in a green pasture doesn’t mean that everything in our life makes sense, and it doesn’t mean that everything is easy.


…laying down in a green pasture doesn’t mean that everything in our life makes sense, and it doesn’t mean that everything is easy.


The ground isn’t always blossoming and the sun isn’t always shining.

Sometimes our ‘green pasture’ is a place of unanswered questions or unexpected circumstances. Sometimes it is the wilderness, where everything we used to cling to has crumbled at our feet. Sometimes our ‘green pasture’ is a place of rejoicing, where His gifts are evident and pieces are falling into place. What makes our circumstances a green pasture doesn’t actually have anything to do with our situation, it has everything to do with our dependence on a faithful Shepherd.

As much as I would love for life to be peachy all of the time, I think I have to walk a little closer to the Shepherd when my ‘green pasture’ is a little dark and a little scary. And I think that is a good thing. We find opportunities to trust in these places. When a shepherd guides his sheep to an open field to rest for the night, there is not an absence of predators or difficulties, but the sheep are safe because the shepherd stands guard.


What makes our circumstances a green pasture doesn’t actually have anything to do with our situation, it has everything to do with our dependence on a faithful Shepherd.


When we look through this lens, we can see every circumstance as an open field to rest in because we trust that even if everything appears to be falling apart, our lives are still hidden with the Good Shepherd.

A lot of the time, I think that I know what are green pastures and what are not. I grumble before the Lord because I am convinced that if my community looked this way, if I had this job, if I lived here, if my family were this way, if this wouldn’t have happened, etc. etc., than I would be thriving. It’s funny how we think we know what’s best for us.  The beautiful part of it is, we have been graciously rescued from death and are now eternally kept in the arms of our Father, and that will always be a green pasture for us to rest in, no matter what our circumstances look like. Maybe we can look at where the Lord has us and trust that it is a green pasture because He is there with us in the midst of it. Maybe we can embrace the hard things because they are testing our faith and deepening our dependence on the Shepherd.


Maybe we can look at where the Lord has us and trust that it is a green pasture because He is there with us in the midst of it.


I want to continue to learn the discipline of seeing my life through this perspective. I want to see every hard, scary, awesome, joyful moment as a green pasture simply because I know who my Shepherd is. I want to embrace the difficult because dependence and rest has to follow.