I had just gotten into my SUV after the Sunday school class and had not asked for directions. But my phone’s GPS popped up with “17 minutes to Evergreen Valley Church.” I have been attending a Sunday school class at another church, then scooting home to pick Don up and go to Evergreen (EVC), our home church. How did my GPS know where I was going next? Hmmmm, think someone/thing is tracking?
Pastor Tim is teaching on Psalm 23 this month. He challenged us to memorize this psalm, and to use it as a basis for thanksgiving. There is so much wealth in this poem. We need to start with God–always; it’s so easy to start from my point of view, my circumstances. But the Psalmist begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.Psalm 23:1-3, ESV
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
When I start with my circumstances I can easily become disheartened, overwhelmed, and even numb. But when I look to God first and ask what He is doing through my circumstances, I have a different perspective.
He is my shepherd, right now. My GPS, my personal guidance system, from now ’til eternity. You don’t see sheep running around on their own, like you might wild Mustangs. Sheep are totally dependent on their shepherd for food, water and protection.
And so am I. I live in a country where independence is highly valued. Self-reliance can become a barrier to trusting God. But I’ve often been reminded of my need to rely on my Good Shepherd…
- When I, and the staff women with whom I lived in the inner city, were threatened with death and mutilation
- When I had to trust God for financial provision while working in a non-profit
- When I have choices to make that will either further my agenda, or His
- When I lost a beloved husband to death
- When I’m weary and my husband needs help with his computer and I need my shepherd’s “green pastures” and “still waters” to respond rightly
- When my neighbor is critically ill and I feel helpless in knowing what to say, and God just helps me love her
- When family members and dear friends suffer with chemo and Covid and loss, and I cry out to Him for them
We are made to have companionship with the Lord, to rely on Him, to trust in Him. These words of Isaiah are familiar to many because they are repeated in Handel’s MESSIAH:
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.Isaiah 40:11
Within the twenty-third Psalm is the wonderful truth that as our Shepherd, God leads, guides, and directs our paths. How often have I headed one direction to have Him turn me around, sometimes painfully.
- The man I thought I’d marry (which would not have been His best for me)
- The career choices I made with His guidance
- Asking forgiveness of others where needed because of His Spirit’s conviction
- The two lovely men I did marry, and the blessings of each
- And the joy of serving God in a variety of ways over the years.
There’s much more in this Psalm yet, but for this week, these scriptures will be my focus.
Where have you experienced God as your Shepherd?