The obvious answer is, “When you’re full.” But do we stop when we’re full? I can easily overeat. I like food, I see it as a treat, and I don’t like denying myself “good things.” In our lives of plenty—when most Americans have enough food even in hard times—how do we know how much is enough? When do we have enough clothes, or shoes, or kitchen gadgets? When have we eaten enough? Surely that is an important question in an affluent society.
Psalm 23 says: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not (be in) want; He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Sheep, I’m told, will not quit eating until all the grass is gone. If the pasture is still green, they are still eating. To lie down in green pastures goes against their… our… very nature. But Jesus can make us that content. Our Shepherd can entreat us lie down in green pastures. We can stop eating when there’s still more food, even when there’s a little more room in our tummies. We can trust that when we are hungry again, He’ll have more food for us. To be able to stop when He says to, to be content — that is the challenge.
To respond to the gentle leading of the Shepherd, that’s the opportunity as we sink deeper into Him, as we grow more accustomed to His guidance.
Paul and Silas did not run out of jail when an earthquake knocked the doors open and unfastened their shackles. (Of course it was God – when does an earthquake unfasten shackles?) Surely the natural impulse would be to run! Yet, Paul and Silas heard God’s voice – they remained in prison. They lay down in green pastures. Because Paul and Silas remained, the jailer and all his household became believers. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we lie down in green pastures, but if our Shepherd is telling us so, we can bet it will be full of His rest and His peace.