Sometimes, I find it helpful to take a simple and familiar line of scripture and let it guide me, word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase, into prayer. Here was a recent journal entry in which the first line of Psalm 23 was my guide.
“The Lord” – God is the Father that Jesus came to show me, to introduce me to, to reveal to me so that all my distorted, bent, and misguided idea about God could be refocused, healed and put on the right track. He showed himself to Moses as “The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands.
“is” – Not “was.” Not just a historical figure, but a present reality. The Lord is here and now. The Lord is present now. This compassionate, gracious, loving, caring Father is here.
“my” – The Lord is present to me. I am not alone. I am not abandoned. I am not forgotten. I’m not in this on my own. The Lord is my God.
“Shepherd” – The way the Lord is with me is as a shepherd. The rest of this little psalm tells me what it means that the Lord is with me to shepherd me:
- Makes me lie down in green pastures: rest, nourishment.
- Leads me beside quiet waters: peace, refreshment.
- Refreshes my soul: inner vitality and energy.
- Guides me along right paths: Good counsel and direction, the best path for me.
- With me in the dark valleys: I’m not alone with I feel lonely. I’m not in danger when I feel threatened.
- Preparing a table in the presence of my enemies: My experiences of feeling threatened or attack are not evidence that God is not taking care of me.
- Anoint my head with oil: image of giving authority and favor.
- My cup overflows: my life and my work as sharing what I cannot begin to hold. I’m already full.
- I’m being followed all the time…but by goodness and mercy.
- I will dwell in the Lord’s house forever: God will always be where I feel most as home.
How might the Lord wish to shepherd you in this chapter of your life and work?
Remember: The Lord is our shepherd, what more could we want? What more do we need?
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