Saturday, December 29, 2018

Okay, I am ready now!

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...  Have you ever really stopped to consider those words, or are they just words of 'nice sentiment' to you? If the day will hold just a moment or two for contemplation, I think these could just be the words we might want to meditate upon! They are better than anything we can do to 'medicate away' the pain - emotional or physical. They are more trustworthy than even the most binding of contracts on this earth. They are more fulfilling than the biggest and best of meals we could luxuriate upon. These are words spoken with intent - they are words that are filled with hope - and they are words meant to encourage us even when all else seems to fail us!

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23)

We have an authority over our lives. The role of the shepherd is to lead and protect the sheep, "directing" them, and "providing" for them. As a leader, the shepherd sets the way, just as a person in charge of directing gives wisdom and insight, and a provider makes every need his priority. When God is in this place of 'leadership' in our lives, we don't need anything else! We are able to stand confident and assured because we know our direction is established and all we will need along the way will be available to us when that need arises.

You lead me beside still waters - in a way, he is bedding us down, providing us with rest for our weary souls, and allowing us the comfort we need in order to be restored. All the world hurls at us daily serves to wear us down - it sucks energy from our souls, occupies precious space in our thoughts, and entangles us in its grasp. Still waters run deep - there is a refreshing that comes when we partake of what God provides for our restoration. You restore my soul - true to his word, he gives us time to catch our breath - even when others would not. I cannot count the times when life was throwing stuff at me so fast that I physically, mentally, and emotionally did not feel like I could ever come up for air. The pressures mounted and the fears entered in - that is the natural outcome when pressures mount and we are left trying to lead ourselves through the many pressures we face. We can find some insight here - we need to go to where God is leading us - there we find rest.

The worst thing we can do is to believe that we are too busy to take time for God, to 'preoccupied' to even allow him to refresh our weary souls. God delights in "giving us space" and "giving us time" to really refocus our lives. It is there in that 'space' that God gives us the sense that he is "alongside" us in our struggles. When we sense his presence, there is a renewed confidence that we shall come out on the completely opposite side of the troubling circumstances with our head held high, our minds at peace, our energies renewed, and our faith built strong. That last verse reminds us of God's unending love for us - his faithfulness to pursue us every step of the way. He "chases after us" - we don't chase after him. What a sad fact, but truth nonetheless. He is the one pursuing us - so that his love may affect us deeply and his grace may embrace us closely. We don't know the many times when God's pursuit was initiated in our lives by the "wrong turns" we took along the way, but a shepherd is ever-alert to the many wanderings of his sheep.

This is a Psalm of Life. It is about God's pursuing love, engaging us in his restorative provision, and renewing us for the next challenge we face in our day ahead. Life is found in his arms, in the nudges of his shepherd's rod, and in his quiet places of renewal and rest. Renewal is around the corner - you are being pursued - stop, listen, and behold the face of your pursuer. Take time to allow him to occupy your 'preoccupied' space a while and you might just find yourself readied to 'attack life' in a totally different manner! Just sayin!