Monday, September 27, 2010

Psalm 23: Apparently I need a shepherd.

I like to figure things out myself.  I listen to what others are doing.  I read.  I do research.  And then I determine what seems to be the best possible solution to any problem or task.  Sometimes I ask for advice.

Sometimes, there are no apparent solutions, no matter how hard I look, no matter how many sources I check, no matter how much time I spend thinking about the situation.  And even if I ask for advice, I know I'll ultimately have to make the decision myself.

At that point, the obvious next step is to ask Jesus what to do.  Well, really it would be better to talk to him first.  But I forget.  Because I think I can figure things out on my own.  And I don't always ask for God's help because I get spinning and basically can't stop thinking about things and testing different potential solutions.  And I literally can't stop the ideas swirling around in my head.

And then, at night sometimes, I wake up and I just can't sleep.  I try to pray then, but I can't still my mind.  So I try to think of Scripture to hang on to.

God's Word is an anchor.   It steadies me.  It settles my thoughts.  And so I mentally sift through the Scriptures I've memorized, looking for the one that stills my heart.

I often land on Psalm 23.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

  he restores my soul. 
       He guides 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.

The familiarity of this passage--we memorize it, recite it, sing it--can take away the powerful message.  God provides for us, he leads us beside quiet waters, he restores our souls, he guides us.  We travels with us when we walk through difficult situations, and we don't have to be afraid.  Even the rod and staff, instruments of discipline, protect us and comfort us.

And so, apparently, I need a shepherd.  I need God's provision. I need help finding quiet waters--as opposed to the stormy ones I often encounter.  I need to rest in green pastures instead of trying to solve my own problems all the time.  I need restoration because my soul is often troubled.  I need a guide.  Sometimes I will travel through "the valley of the shadow of death," but I don't have to be afraid because God is with me.  And sometimes I wander off, and I need a rod and a staff to keep me close to the shepherd, who has my best interests in mind.  Apparently I need a shepherd.

This passage includes a promise, and sometimes I forget this part:

You prepare a table before me 
       in the presence of my enemies. 
       You anoint my head with oil; 
       my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me 
       all the days of my life, 
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD 
A lot of time I worry because I think I actually need to figure out what to do next.  I think the worst things will happen to me because, well, I don't deserve good things.  And here's the deal.   God has prepared a feast for me.  I just don't see it yet.  David, no matter what he goes through, remembers that God's promises are true.  "Surely goodness and love" or mercy "will follow me all the days of my life."

Ah.  I'm so glad I have a shepherd.  I really do need him.  

No comments: