Tuesday, April 19, 2016


No one likes downtime. It sounds negative. It makes one think of loss, of pointless wasted time.

A business suffers downtime when equipment breaks down and everything grinds to a slowdown or halt. A computer failure immobilizes a bank. Downtime frustrates both customers and employees. An illness or disability sidelines us and our seemingly urgent activities are forced to be put on hold. We become impatient, antsy, and irritated. We tend to blame it on the devil.

Wait a minute! Why is the devil necessarily the culprit? Just because the word is “down” and “up” seems to sound more spiritual? Isn't the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 in charge of His human sheep for good and not for evil? Doesn't everything that comes into our lives get filtered through His love and care and providence?

HE makes me lie down in green pastures....” Why wouldn't I recognize that my downtime, whatever its source may be, is in the perfect plan of God? If I, as His less than smart sheep, don't have sense enough to take rest and unplug from this technological world system to recollect myself and plug into His mind and heart, our Good Shepherd may have to make us, arrange for us to “lie down in green pastures.” Whether we like it or not or have put it on our calendar. And those green pastures in which I lie down may be between white hospital sheets or the equivalent. Whatever it takes to bring us back on course to an eternal perspective.

Why? What is He thinking? The key is in the next phrase: “He restores my soul.” We may not be aware of just how much we need that restoration until we experience some physical downtime that will remind us of our fragile mortality and human weakness. We are dependent on God for every breath that sustains our life.

Usually I don't think that I need to be laid aside for awhile and experience quietness to enrich my life--especially just now. Usually such an event comes upon us at an inconvenient time. But I've found that the Good Shepherd chooses His right time to interrupt my self-planned agenda so that He can better accomplish His purposes for me and through me to restore my soul.

During one such prolonged session of horizontal downtime some years ago at the time of my lung cancer surgery, a friend sent me the following poem by an Unknown writer. That downtime event occurred unexpectedly and at a most inconvenient time—one of the most active ministry periods of my life.

I needed the quiet, so He took me aside
into the shadows where we could confide,
away from the bustle, where all day long
I hurried and worried, active and strong.

Yes, I needed the quiet, though at first I rebelled,
but gently, so gently, the cross He upheld,
and whispered so sweetly of spiritual things.
Weakened in body, my spirit took wings
to heights never dreamed in my active days.

He loved me so greatly He drew me away.
I needed the quiet; no prison my bed,
but a beautiful valley of blessing instead,
a place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide.
I needed the quiet, so He took me aside.

I have been accustomed to drive long distances in years past pushing myself to keep on driving to gain time. I have usually skipped the exits marked “Rest Area” which are posted at intervals for good reasons. Since long time habits are difficult to break, I'm still struggling with viewing Divine Downtime as a luxury. It is, however, a necessity provided by the Lord and to be greatly desired and experienced.

If I don't take time on my own to “restore my soul,” for sure I can expect that God will lovingly “make” some green pasture time for me.

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