Our Rest Position
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn
Over the years, I have had many Psalms rise to the top as my favorite, depending on my circumstances or phase of life. My current favorite is Psalm 131. Lately, I find myself returning to it often, and sharing it with others.
My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
My attention was drawn to this Psalm by a brainy seminary student. He called it the “Philosopher’s Psalm.” In the heady world of intellect, he was used to trading arguments with his other brilliant friends about the most esoteric of topics, following the trail of other big thinkers, pushing against the limits of logical exposition. He found that he tended to lose his moorings in this sea of ideas. As a dedicated follower of Christ, he found in this Psalm a prescription for what ailed him. This Psalm encouraged him to come out of the ivory tower to the place where he truly belonged. When all was said and done, at the end of the day, this Psalm brought him back home.
It’s not just philosophers who can lose their bearings. Everyday living produces enough unanswerable questions to keep us thinking. Suffering, illness, death—all these provoke a search for answers. We struggle to find a reason for the senseless injustice and evil in the world around us. We wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers when we feel stuck. We ponder the hiddenness and the mystery of God. We ask deep questions about the meaning of life, about our place in this world, about our future destiny.
We drift just as much in the sea of emotions as in the sea of thoughts. In fact, it is in this sea that we most often run amok or crash.
Psalm 131 is the anchor, our final rest position, the place to which we come back when there are no good answers. It’s a needed reminder that our most logical reasoning, our biggest and brightest thoughts are quite puny when pitted against the thinking power of the Creator of the universe. It’s a God-sized job to bring meaning to all the unanswered questions. The Bible assures us that God will not be thwarted. He will work his purpose. He will accomplish his ends, even when we can’t figure out how he will do it; even when we can’t see it now.
But I love this Psalm because it’s not the awesome, powerful, mastermind Creator that I turn to for answers, but rather the God who nurtures and loves me like a mother. I read, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul,” and the rpms slow down. I imagine this child, leaned up against the knee of her mother: touching skin to skin, comforted within the loop of her mother’s arms. She has stilled her soul, because she has sought her mother out. And in her mother’s presence, the questions that seemed so important and the burdens that seemed so monumental roll off the child’s shoulders. The weaned child has learned through experience that her mother always provides and is always there. She may not have received answers yet, but these things she knows: that she is the apple of her mother’s eye; and that she is secure in her mother’s love. And it is enough just to be together.
We may toss and turn. We may ask the hard “why” questions. We may even struggle with God as we search for meaning. But I encourage you to find your rest position with God at the end of the day. Still your soul with the One who loves you and takes care of you. Find your true home in God.
As I “own” this Psalm, I’ve taken to personalizing the last verse. “O Connie, put your hope in the Lord, now and forever.” It’s a good reminder to me. I encourage you to personalize this Psalm for yourself: “O __________, put your hope in the Lord.”