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Is There More to the Christian Life? - Encouragement for Today - May 24, 2021

  • 2021 May 24

Kristi GaultiereMay 24, 2021

Is There More to the Christian Life?
KRISTI GAULTIERE

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“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.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

A few years ago, my husband Bill and I set out on a hike to a waterfall with great anticipation and enthusiasm.

But after a couple of hours in the heat, running out of water, getting wet shoes from crossing a creek several times, navigating through fallen tree branches and climbing over huge boulders, I wanted to quit.

Bill is a “Run the ball to the goal and don’t let anything stop you!” kind of guy. But thankfully, he agreed to turn back.

One year later, we did this hike with another couple, and at that same spot, my friend stepped back and said, “Oh my, I can’t get over these boulders! How about we head back to the car?”

Recently, we tried the hike for a third time. When we got to the wall of boulders, I wanted to quit — for the third time! We just stood there on the trail. Was there really a waterfall? Maybe it dried up?

Just then, a hiker approached. I called out, “Did you make it to the waterfall? How much further is it? Is it worth it?”

He told us the waterfall was amazing, and it was just ahead! He was the trail guide we needed to press on.

I’m so glad we did! The spray and sound of water cascading off the cliff was delightful. God’s grace refreshed my soul as each drop of cool water descended and splashed into the clear blue pool at the bottom.

Our journey with Jesus is like that. Eventually, we get tired, lost or discouraged. We can’t feel God’s love anymore. We hit a Wall, and our feelings cry out to turn back to what’s familiar and easier. But there’s a waterfall of grace just ahead!

In my late 30s, I collapsed at the Wall with compassion fatigue from caring for so many hurting people in my ministry. Unable to shake my doubts and discouragements, I lost trust that God really was good and loving.

Have you ever felt like you can’t keep going? Or lost hope that there really is more for you in the Christian life? In this past year of pandemic and social unrest, I’ve talked with many people who feel like they’re at a Wall in their faith journey.

In Psalm 23, this Wall is called the valley of the shadow of death. (v. 4) Here, the shepherd’s blessings are a thing of the past. (vv. 1-3) The cheerful green pastures have gone brown. The still waters have dried up. Frost has wilted our flowers. What was once fruitful in our service to God now looks barren. What had been working in our Bible study and in prayer now seems to fail us.

To get through the Wall, we need to try some new spiritual practices, such as quietly meditating on Scripture, being emotionally honest about our faith questions and distress with a friend, praying psalms of lament to receive God’s empathy and cultivating longing for God.

Psalm 23:4 reveals the secret to making it past the Wall: “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” (ESV).

In the shepherding analogy throughout the six verses of Psalm 23, the rod and staff are symbols of God’s protection and guidance. Shepherds would use these tools to fend off wild animals that threatened the sheep and guide them back onto right paths. No matter what we go through, God’s presence, guidance and protection as our Good Shepherd are what ultimately get us past the Wall and to the waterfall of grace.

When we look to Jesus as our trail guide on the journey of the soul, He helps us resist the temptation to turn back. Our Good Shepherd wants to lead us through the dark valley to bless us with a spiritual feast, fresh anointing and an overflowing cup. (v. 5)

There is a waterfall of grace ahead! In this place of abundance, we come to know God’s goodness and mercy have been pursuing us all the days of our lives. (Psalm 23:6)

Dear Lord, strengthen me not to give up at the Wall or in any trial. Help me to know that You are with me, You love me and You love others through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 10:4, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Discover your next steps to greater intimacy with God as you read about how Kristi got through the Wall of not feeling God’s love in her book, Journey of the Soul: A Practical Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Growth by Bill and Kristi Gaultiere. They unpack their proven model of emotional and spiritual growth through six CHRIST stages of faith. It’s a map of your soul with different Scriptures and soul care practices for each stage to help you grow. Order your copy today!

For free small group videos, message notes, worship song playlists and more, visit journeyofthesoul.org.

CONNECT:
Start your day with encouragement from Bill and Kristi through their Soul Shepherding ministry blog, podcast, Facebook and Instagram. Also, you can talk with one of the Sr. Spiritual Directors on their team to receive empathy and guidance in your journey with Jesus.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Journey of the Soul by Bill and Kristi Gaultiere. To celebrate this book, Bill and Kristi’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, May 31, 2021.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When have you felt spiritually dry or stuck? What are you longing to experience in your life with Jesus?

© 2021 by Kristi Gaultiere. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Soul Shepherding and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106
www.Proverbs31.org




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