"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 death I 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."
Points to Contemplate:
Is the Lord your shepherd?
Take a moment to reread this psalm; explore its contents as though you have never read it before. Familiarity some times interferes with new insight and inspiration. Do you have this psalm memorized? On what occasions do you read it? It is usually used for funerals or during difficult times because of the promise of comfort. Do you see that it also has a clear message for us when times are going well? Do you see that it can be used as a guidebook for how to live our lives dependent on God's guidance?
Does He lead you along the paths of righteousness? Or do you attempt to do everything through your own efforts and achievements? When things are difficult or when you are struggling with a specific sin or darkness, do you see these as times where you may have strayed from His guidance? Do you recognize the promise that as you follow where He leads and do things in His name, the more your life will be fulfilled and content? Are you allowing Him to restore your soul and fulfill your needs, wants, or desires?
What do you fear? When you struggle with pain, suffering, disease, or death, is there anyone else but God to turn to for comfort and encouragement? Does anyone or anything provide an answer to the questions, worries, or fears you face in these times? Do you recognize that the more you turn to Him in your "good" times the more comfort He will be able to afford you in your times of struggle? Will you allow His blessings to carry you through your dark valleys and sustain you during confrontations with your enemies?
In what ways is Jesus your "Good Shepherd?" Are you encouraged and comforted by His love? As a member of His flock, are you reaching out to others with the news of salvation that is available through Him? Are you willing to lay down your life so that others might live? Do you tend and care for His flock, helping to meet their needs and nourish their souls? Are you being the Good Shepherd you are called to be? Promise of the Gospel:
As a shepherd, God takes care of us. He meets our needs. He leads us where we can be fulfilled and nourished. He makes us safe. As we become completely dependent on Him for our provisions, guidance, and protection we are led to the right places to do the right things in the right ways. We do not follow as blind, dumb, or passive animals but as those wise enough to recognize that when we choose to be His follower and His disciple, we choose a rich and rewarding life filled with opportunity and happiness along with a passionate love of God and an authentic love for those around us.