Skip to main content

The Lord is my shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalm 23:1-3 NLT)
What does a shepherd do? How is it he goes about his daily work? Isn't his whole purpose in life to watch over the flock he shepherds? As he "watches over", doesn't this entail an unwavering commitment to focus on their needs, often above his own? When is it the shepherd is "on duty"? Isn't it all the time? Isn't the shepherd "on duty" when the sheep are not as "focused" on their surroundings? I think maybe the shepherd has the hardest job, for his work never ends, his vigilance can never cease, and his provision must always be renewed.
We have all that we need - not always all we want. For many a child (and even an adult or two I know), this concept of want and need get a little confused. We want a lot of things, but not all we want is always the best thing for us, nor are the conditions right for us to receive what it is we may want. The shepherd of our lives has a great deal of "work" where it comes to getting us to focus more on our needs and less on our wants - even though both of these matter very much to him. We need rest, but does it always come at the beach? We need refreshing, but does it always come with a massage? Even the provision that meets our need may differ depending on the time and place - right?
God's promise to his children is fourfold:
- He will be our shepherd. As such, he watches out for us and is keenly aware of our every need (as well as our every want). He knows us intimately - not just in a cursory way - because he spends time with us.
- He provides for us. We focus on the things he provides, but we must never forget the "conditions" he provides, such as the peaceful rest at night when our bodies are wearied by the day. He does more for us than just give us "stuff" - he gives us the rest of spirit and soul that refreshes our inner man and renews our energies (physical and spiritual).
- He promotes our success. When he leads us, guiding us as we "grow through the things we go through", it isn't without a focus in mind. His aim is our movement from one level to the next - so we don't just "stay put" where we are. Sheep are kind of goofy that way - they will stay put, never even noticing their pasture has been diminished, eating until the nubs of the grass are even gone. So, the shepherd encourages them to move on - to not be content to stay put. Sometimes our needs are best met not in standing still to receive them, but in moving forward to the next place where our provision will come.
- He desires nothing more than our best. In the end, the shepherd is known by the flocks he shepherds. It isn't that he just fulfills the part of a shepherd - he must produce the "quality" or "integrity" of sheep that produce a great deal of rich wool. Sickly or undernourished sheep don't produce good wool. Sheep run ragged by moving hither and yon without any real chance to rest are not going to produce great offspring. As God shepherds our lives, he is always taking us to where we will have renewed energies and the chance to produce only the best from within our lives. In the end, his name is known by the sheep he shepherds. The quality and integrity of our lives become the testimony of his great and continual care! Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those t…

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…