June 3, 2009
The Lord is My Shepherd, Part 2
Psalm 23 (NIV) “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. 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 forever.”
Friend To Friend
During a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church, I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie. I clung to that pew in sheer arrogance and argued that I was a Christian. I must be. Look at all of the good things I had done. I looked liked a believer, talked like a believer and even acted like I was fully devoted to God … but was I really a follower of God?
As I contemplated the answer to that question, a startling certainty hit me like a ton of bricks! I knew all about God – and then the deeper truth of that reality followed closely behind. Yes, I had certainly accumulated a lot of knowledge about God but I did not know Him. It wasn’t enough for me or for God.
I have come to realize that God’s perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with his children. That night, I stood in the darkness, gazing at the star-filled heavens and cried out, “God, if you are who you really say you are, I give everything I know about me to everything I know about you. I surrender.” I met Jesus Christ that night.
While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still had to deal with life on a daily basis and still had to face stressful situations but I also discovered who I really was - a sheep - and being a sheep is awesome! When I am afraid, Jesus Christ is there to bring peace. When my heart is broken, the Holy Spirit comforts and restores me. Even when I found myself in a deep, dark pit of clinical depression, Jesus Christ, my Shepherd, led me from the darkness into the light.
I began to understand the incredible truth that, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd had planned my very existence, prepared a plan in response to his love for me, and even made provision for the payment of my past, present and future sin. I was wanted, chosen and marked for God. I no longer had to live life on my own because I now had a Shepherd. God's love precedes me, goes before me and surrounds me as I live each day. Knowing that we are loved fosters peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.
Actually, when you think about it, sheep don’t come across as stressed-out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to the dangers of being a sheep. Sheep don’t seem to worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds. When sheep are sick, they simply turn to their Shepherd, instinctively knowing that He will take care of them and comfort them until healing comes.
We need to remember and even revisit the fact that we are all sheep; that Jesus Christ really is our Shepherd and that nothing else really matters.
I am so needy, Lord. Everywhere I turn, I am inadequate in my own strength, power and abilities. I waste so much time and energy trying to be everything You already are. Help me to remember that I don’t have to depend upon my sufficiency. I can always and forever depend on Yours alone. I am Your sheep. And You are my Shepherd. Praise God!
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
I encourage you to read Psalm 23 every day for one week. At the end of that week, examine your stress level. Has it changed? In what ways?
Write Psalm 23 in your journal, on a card or a piece of paper. Tuck a copy in your purse or your bible. In fact, make several copies and place them in prominent places around your house.
Memorize Psalm 23 – one verse at a time. Meditate on each word, each phrase and each truth in that verse.
More From The Girlfriends
Sometimes the most familiar passages of Scripture are the most overlooked parts of the bible. Psalm 23 is one of those passages. I have often heard this psalm read at funerals or taught in an occasional sermon or bible class but never saw the truths it contains on dealing with stress. One day, during a particularly stressful time in my life, I automatically turned to this psalm for comfort – only to find God’s stress-management plan that would ultimately change my life. I pray it does the same for you.
Need encouragement? Check out Mary’s weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey. The current topic is “How to Manage Your Emotions.”
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