He restores my soul . . . (Psalm 23:3)
A video currently posted on Facebook shows a full-size horse playing in a child-size inflatable pool. The pool is about same length as the horse and about 30 inches deep. He begins with one foot slapping the water, but soon has all fours in, still striking the water and nodding his head. Then he lays down, first on one side then the other. This horse is obviously enjoying himself. If a horse has a soul, he is definitely restoring it.
I’m reminded of a horse I had before reaching my teens. My sister took a smaller child for a ride. They walked over a covered septic tank and the cover gave way. Snowball started to fall. My sister threw the child off one side and leaped to safety herself. Snowball was not as fortunate. He stood on his hind legs up to his neck in the muck, with his front legs on the top edge. It took several men and a tractor a long time to get him out. He lay on his side and whinnied his relief, another soul restored.
I use these examples because this biblical term refers to a shepherd rescuing a hapless sheep who somehow becomes upended and on its back. The sheep cannot get up by itself and would die without the loving care of the shepherd who restores it to its right position.
Jesus does that for His sheep. When my soul gets into a bad spot, He comes to my rescue. This is part of the gospel plan. God saves His people from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and eventually the presence of sin. Right now, I live in that middle place where sin wants to ruin me, but Jesus is my Savior. He forgives, He intercedes, He guides, and He also restores.
Some think that when a Christian sins, God is going to scold or smack us. That is not a biblical concept of God or the gospel. The Lord corrects, but it is not with a big stick or a nasty voice. For Him, restoration is a careful and gentle process . . .
Behold my servant (pointing to Jesus), whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:1–3)
And I (God) will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)
On those times when my life is upside down (and it happens often), I will feel panic like Snowball in the septic tank. Instead of struggle to right myself, I need to remember what the Word of God says about my Shepherd. Not only will He never leave or forsake me, He will deliver and rescue me. Like the psalmist, I might ask myself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Then tell myself what to do . . . “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11)
After that, all that remains is waiting for Him to restore my soul. He never abandons His sheep.