The Shepherd

A month before my brother, Brent, passed away, I began reading the 23rd Psalm from The Message. Multiple times that month Psalm 23 came up in things I was reading, sermons, social media posts. Lines of the Psalm were showing up in song lyrics. I mean I was seeing it everywhere! Whenever that happens I try to really focus in on whatever it is that God wants me to see and learn.

The last few days with Brent in the hospital I read that Psalm out loud multiple times in his room. He and I had both memorized it when we were kids in children’s church. Reading it from The Message brought fresh comfort. And so when we were asked if there was a special scripture we would like in his memorial bulletin I requested Psalm 23 from the translation called The Message.

Since then I’ve spent time with that passage. It was written by King David of the Old Testament in the Bible roughly 1000 years B.C. So it’s been around a LONG time. Probably MILLIONS of people have read it. Writing out each line and just spending time thinking about what it means to me or what I hear as I am waiting on Him is often how I linger over God’s Word. There are many ways to study the Bible. This is one of my favorites. I thought I’d share what came to my mind and onto my journal pages as I’ve spent time with it over the past two months. The Psalmist’s words are in BOLD print. My thoughts are in italics.

God, my shepherd! I not only admit that You are over me, I embrace it with great joy! A shepherd ‘guides and directs in a particular direction’. And I eagerly want to follow You in the direction You have for me.

I don’t need a thing…because I know that You are always for me. You know what I need before even I do and You take care of every need.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows; You find me quiet pools to drink from. In the middle of all the chaos life brings, even tries to suck me right into, You surround me with peace. Lush meadows may not be the Ritz Carlton, but it is a restful place with plenty of room for my soul to spread out. And those quiet pools…there’s no rushing, chugging, desperate attempts to hydrate my body and soul. Those quiet pools allow me to drink my fill. Not having to ration or drink on the go while managing the chaos and turmoil around me. IF I truly let You lead me You will provide those times of rest and deep hydration for my spirit, soul and body every time I need it. And because You are my shepherd You always know what I need and when I need it.

True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. You will never lie to me so I can trust everything You tell me. When I am overwhelmed You let me catch my breath. You know that I struggle to remain at Your pace but You give me the pause that I need to refocus and You make sure I’m not falling off course. You course correct when I need it.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. I’ve never been closer to that valley than those last few days with Brent in the hospital. The veil between heaven and earth, between my heart and Yours, has never felt thinner than in those days and the weeks after. I witnessed my little brother fearlessly go from this world into Your arms and it was hard for me to let go, but glorious to watch him finally arrive where he was always meant to live…fully in Your presence.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. Wow. How do I say what I feel about this verse. At first thought I want to deny your shepherd’s crook. That would mean that I possibly could be in danger, either by my own doing or by accident. But KNOWING you can pull me out of difficult, treacherous, hard to maneuver situations and places…every time I need it…gives me great comfort. It means I can rest in Your care.

You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. What??!! First, this means You are with me even when my enemies show up. And second, You are all about meeting my needs, not just minimally, but over the top, and making sure that my enemies know who I belong to and who is providing for me. And it doesn’t matter how many courses it takes to serve up that message. You’re not serving up fast food. This is a sit-down, extravagant, take your time banquet with the King!

You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. I get tired. I get weary. And when I am about to fall out You breathe life back into me. And, when my cup is up to the brim…that means IT IS FULL…and full of Your blessings.

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I love this so much about You, God! I want to be a reflection of Your beauty and love in my every day life. When You are chasing after me that means I have my back to You and that makes it almost impossible to reflect You. So I thank You for DAILY chasing after me. Every time I need chasing…it is not with anger or rebuke; but, with beauty and love.

I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. My brother, Brent, is back home with You now and I am thankful to know that he is safe and whole in Your presence. I know that one day I will be as well. ‘The rest of my life’ isn’t about my short life on earth. It is about my FOREVER life in my FOREVER home with You, Father. And, if there ever was a doubt that we were with You before our birth on this earth…this verse confirms its truth. ‘I’m back home’ means I was there…with You…before I was here!

And so it is with the message of God’s love. His love for us never changes. But His way of delivering it to us, reminding us of it, over and over comes in fresh new ways because His Word is alive and always accomplishes the purpose for which it is sent. It is an honor to receive it and let it do its work in us.