Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 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. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all the psalms. It is about the constancy of Christ even though He is called the Shepherd. I could elaborate on the first verse endlessly never moving on to the rest. When Jesus becomes our Provider, Protector and Providence – there is nothing more valuable or desirable to be found. He is constant. He is sovereign. He is faithful. Always good. Forever gracious. His Loving Care and Kindness is endless. He always offers me more, better, fruitful, and productive opportunities in life. However, this knowledge and understanding comes at a price.
It takes trust. It requires time. It is to invest a footstep in following rather than leading the way. It is to submit the most precious commodity given in order to receive forever. It is a risk in the beginning. How do I know? Where will I go? What will I do? Will it be worth it? The second part of verse one is an achievement of soul satisfaction. Jesus promised to give us a rich and satisfying life which the enemy has decide to steal, kill and destroy if at all possible. This is the journey of life. The ebb and flow of our flesh and spirit as one attempts to surrender our only thing of value to a Savior of infinite worth. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want is not one-sided statement but a partnership. The Lord is my Shepherd. He is doing His Part. I do not want because I have invested my life and my soul is satisfied.
The enemy cannot take anything from us that we are not willing to give. Any part of our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is heavily guarded by the One who is victorious and overcame the world. There is nothing invested in the Kingdom that the enemy can lay claim to or take hold of. Someone needed to hear that today. Our eyes keep looking at the giants rather than staying focused on our champion. He is bigger, greater and more powerful. The Shepherd is not meek but a fearless and faithful warrior who will not leave a single one behind who desires to be found.
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. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
The peaks and valleys of life are inevitable. Jesus did not come to save the world. The tumultuous journey and path chosen by darkness is written and confirmed. The earth as we know it will pass away one day despite our stewardship of it. Jesus came for me and you. He loves me and you. His Greatest and Most Earnest Intent on the Cross was to have a relationship with us. The very first thing His Spirit did was to tear the veil that once separated mankind from God’s Presence from top to bottom. It was clear in that moment that our Savior and Lord’s Desire was for us. A personal and intimate journey through life into eternity with us. He is ready to escort us through a world where love has grown cold and sin rampant. Where bad things happen to good people. To a place where sickness and disease snatches innocent children. A place where mental illness plagues many as the tormentor and accuser hisses in their ears. See this world is not going to get better. It has an end. Enoch lived a life pleasing to God immersed in His Presence so one day he just disappeared. I believe Enoch to be just as human as you and I. I am sure some days were great and some a struggle. The consistency of His Life and Love was God.
The last week has been a challenge. The past few months a struggle. However, in the midst of the hardship, hurt and even uncertainty, I have found Psalm 23 to be true all over again. Life with Christ is not always level paths. There will be peaks. There will be valleys. Even plateaus that make some wonder if the Lord really will do as He promised. I have visited all three time and time again. I have a choice in these challenges. I can change and be changed or remain subject to the roller coaster of life. I can remain yoked to Christ or decide to do this on my own. When I remain faithful, I find that His Goodness and mercy are right behind me and overtake me on a regular basis. Not because I have done it all right, or even gotten a single point of the learning experience, but simply because God is faithful. He is constant. He does not change. What if I could for a moment establish such constancy with Christ?
Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
About five years ago, I gave up control of my life. It was not a beautiful surrender or sweet submission. It was the moment that I realized I have absolutely no control over the daily outcomes in my life. I cannot provide, protect, or prevent anything in the life of those I love. I cannot fulfill God’s Promises of healing, deliverance or salvation. I am but a mere human being who is dearly loved by the All Mighty. Something in me has changed. At first, I thought it was a survival mode mentality that would surely change when danger passed and disaster was averted. It didn’t change at all. Normal was shattered. New life had begun. It was uncomfortable. It was not convenient. It was my complete undoing. Things are so much better now.
There is a song by Bethel called “All I Know Your Love Endures”. I found it on YouTube this week looking for comfort. A new song. Something to sing walking through the darkness of the valley. The chorus is “all I know is this Your Love endures through every change…I am sure of it Your Love endures it will remain.” Do you believe that today? Can you sing such a love song in the midst of uncertainty, climbing the rough side of the mountain, or on those days when the Light of His Love appears as only a faint flicker in a distance just too far to traverse? The bridge says this “Emmanuel…Your every word sustaining…your nearness is my victory…from summits and in valleys I’ll sing.” I encourage you to find this powerful worship song and listen to it over and over. Our victory in Jesus Christ is not in our ability to make it up the mountain or through the valley but to allow Him to be our constant. To be our song from the highest peak and into the depths of the wildest sea. Deep calls to deep not to wade in the murky and stagnant waters of complacency. God is greater than the highs and lows in life. We say it, wear it, and recite it but when it makes its way into our heart and soul enough to believe it. It is then that our delight will be the Lord and His Unfailing Love, Goodness and Mercy will sweep us into His Presence. As our soul prospers so will we despite the challenges and struggles of life. Not because of our faithfulness but simply because He is faithful. Thank you Lord! You are the Good Shepherd. I do not want but only desire more of You!
3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.