Return to Your Rest - Psalm 131

“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. ”  Psalm 131 (ESV)

I’m lying there in the dark while anxious thoughts needle at the edges of my mind, staving off slumber’s approach.

You didn’t finish that chore today.
You need to get up earlier tomorrow.
What are you going to do about that situation?
Why did you say that?
Oh, by the way, you’re still not—

The list goes on.

I don’t know why my brain and heart pick the 15 minutes before I fall asleep as the prime time to process all of life’s problems, classify every conversation I’ve had that day, and berate myself for my latest bad decisions, but it does.

In response, I’ve developed a different thought pattern to redirect my mind.

You have thought all the thoughts you can today.
It’s enough.
You’re not going to solve all the things today.
You aren’t God.
It’s enough.

And then I recite Psalm 131. 

It’s one of my favorites, one of my most recited set of verses. While only three verses long, it’s packed with powerful imagery of a heart at rest, even when circumstances aren’t 100 percent perfect. I don’t know about you, but that addresses about 80 percent of my attitude problems in three little verses. Humbling.

And that is where the chapter starts off: humility and knowing your place. A helpful reminder for us all. King David is the author of this psalm, so if even a king had to be reminded of his place before God, then so do we.

The next verse talks about calming yourself, and the interpretations of this vivid imagery are varied. Whichever one you subscribe to, the basic picture is choosing to quiet your longings in deference to the one who knows best, who knows youbest. The psalmist acknowledges that he can have peace, even if he doesn’t get everything he wants. And the same is true for us. You can be quiet and calm, even when you don’t get every question answered or every little whim met.

Just like a child who whines and asks for things and is met with a no, but then learns to sit quietly anyway, so can we make the same choice with our spirits before the Lord. 

Whether we are seeking direction, growing in patience, walking through conflict with family or friends, waiting on an answer, parenting little ones, or anything else, our souls will walk in step with Lord so much better when we remember our place and remind ourselves that we will be okay without every question met, without every whim answered.

As adults, we roll our eyes and sigh when little kids act like they are going to melt into oblivion if they don’t get what they want. But aren’t our hearts just as restless before the Lord sometimes? Even if we don’t throw outward tantrums anymore, inwardly our hearts get just as bothered, frustrated and hurt.

Just a few chapters prior, in Psalm 116, we see the same sentiment echoed.

“Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (v. 7)

So whatever you are facing today, whatever is needling at your soul or buzzing around your heart, whatever is threatening to peel you up at the edges, return to rest. And in the midst of the unanswered and unfinished, hope in the Lord.