Rest is critical to a healthy sheep. A rested ewe produces more milk and bigger lambs. Rested lambs grow bigger faster. Rested rams put on more weight. Rest helps with the production that the Shepherd is looking for in his sheep.
The problem is that sheep have a really hard time resting. Philip Keller writes about this in his famous book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” He says that a sheep cannot rest until they have four needs taken care of: food, water, freedom from fear/anxiety, and freedom from pests.
Food and water are pretty clear. Freedom from fear and anxiety means that the sheep are at peace inside the flock and outside the flock. If there is bullying or annoying happening between sheep they will not lie down to rest. Or, if there are unknown worries outside of the pasture area that are causing fear the sheep will run away and not rest. If there is a swarm of flies or gnats attacking the sheep’s ears, eyes, and nostrils they obviously can’t lie down to sleep in peace.
All of these are basic needs, and all of these needs are met by the Shepherd. His presence is necessary, and his presence makes all the difference. He provides food and water. He walks into the sheep pen and the anxiety levels drop. His presence means no fear or worry. He also knows how to lead the flocks to windy areas and far from low lying areas full of pesty bugs. The shepherd cares for the needs and the sheep are able to find rest.
Are you looking for rest in your life? Spend time with your Good Shepherd. He takes care of your needs and frees your from fear or anxiety so that you can rest. Spend time with Jesus, and you’ll be free to rest.
Dear Jesus, Thank you for taking care of my needs so that I can lie down in peace. Amen.