in the parking lot lugging milk and corn flakes and bread in brown paper bags, you catch my stolen glance at your little boy, you grimace, forgive me for intruding into your private world — I walk away
into the store, Friday towards dusk, my hair flows neatly down my shoulders, my blouse crisp and creaseless, my list is short, the evening hours long
for the laughter of my little ones, the crinkle of brown paper bags, the crackling of corn flakes in milk, the warmth of bread baked in my own peculiar world of long ago.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ; He leadeth me beside the still waters ; He restoreth my soul .” . Ps. xxiii. 2 , 3.
~ a synopsis and modern translation of George Matheson’s writing
Would it be an easy thing for a person to confess the Lord to be their Shepherd when brought to green pastures beside still waters? Who would not rejoice in the peace and contentment, surrounded by such a peaceful surrounding? In truth, one must sound the depths of one’s soul because no one can lie down in peace until one has received a restored soul.
It is as equally difficult for an unrestored soul to lie down in green pastures as to wallow in barren wastelands. Do you think that an unrestful heart will have more rest in prosperity than in adversity? No, an unrestul heart will carry itself into everything. Prosperity is not found in the greenness of the pastures — adversity lies not in the barrenness of the wastelands; they both lie within.
The joyous heart will make all things joyful, its pastures will always be green, its waters will all be quiet. The restless heart will make all things unrestful: the calmness of the outward scene will be its source of pain.
We cannot fly from ourselves by changing our circumstances: we can only change our own circumstances by fleeing from ourselves. The sweetness and bitterness of life are alike within us, and we shall receive from the world just what we bring to it.
Oh my soul, if you would have green pastures, if you desire quiet waters, if you should seek for a place where you can lie down and rest, then you must first be restored. You must set aside your own self before you can find a scenery of repose.
Then when you are at rest, all things can be yours — the world, life, death, angels, principalities, powers — you can claim them as your servants. You can extract joy out of sorrow, sleep in the ship of life when the storm is raging around you. You shall spread your table in the presence of your enemies.
Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life when your soul shall have been restored.
*** Reference: George Matheson, “The Secret of Peace”, Moments on the Mount, London: James Nisbet & Co.1884, pp. 67-69