**He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.** Psalm 23:2
Our first months of living in Spain were the most stressful I have ever experienced. Just trying to buy groceries filled me with anxiety. I had a limited working knowledge of Spanish and NO real practice in hearing native speakers. I felt completely overwhelmed.
After a few weeks, we needed to take a trip to Barcelona to visit the Consulate and register ourselves as American citizens living in Zaragoza. Going together as a family of six was not a possibility as we had no car and could not afford the expense of the 6 of us going on a train or bus. We had been buying all of our furniture for our apartment and money was running short. So a fellow missionary offered to take me. We took care of the paperwork at the Consulate and then had time before our return trip to visit the beach. It was still winter so we just walked on the beach and then I sat down in the sand and looked out over the water. In a moment, all of the stress and anxiety flowed out of me. Looking out over the expanse of the Mediterranean Sea, gave me the space I needed to let go of all the fears and worries that I was filled with. The water brought me peace and new perspective. Our family had made it through the first difficult weeks and I felt then that we could continue to learn how to live in Spain and move forward into ministry.
Living in the city did not offer me this same experience of finding peace. I needed the open space, the limitless view that the Sea offered.
God knows what each of us needs when times are tough. He created natural spaces and understands that getting away from people and pressure-filled circumstances and experiencing the peace that nature brings can calm our hearts and give us a fresh outlook.
I had not yet fully learned the truths of Philippians 4:6,7 …that I could take all of my anxiety to God and He would give me peace. I had been taking much of my worries to God and saw Him answer me daily. But I did not have the thankful heart that I needed to enjoy those answered prayers. I was consumed with every detail of life and how to find my way in a new culture and language. I had not yet learned how to rest in God and his power to provide and protect us.
Now, many years later I have learned to find the green pastures and still waters in God´s Word and in His promises. I find rest for my turbulent heart in His faithfulness and constant presence.
The sea as well as the mountains are still a cathartic for city living for me, but I am not in such a desperate need to escape my day to day. I have seen God fight for us again and again and I now have the faith and courage to face each new trial without so much emotional turmoil.
God knows when we need a break from life´s pressures. He will speak to and comfort us from His Word, remind us of His promises and when we need a fresh perspective, He will lead us to still waters, and green pastures to refresh our hearts just as a Good Shepherd does for his sheep.