Once there was a woman who loved God very much and she started each day with a reading of Psalm 23. She would carefully read over the words and let them sink deep into her heart and mind. In that way, she carried the word with her throughout her day and it greatly comforted her. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters…
But over the years her memory started to fail her and she had difficulty remembering the words of her favorite psalm. Soon she could only remember the words ‘He leads me’. Then it became, “He leads,” and finally when she was dying the only thing that was still on her lips was, ‘He’. But that was the only word she really needed. After all, He is everything.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters
He makes me lie down. He is the One who leads the way. Not me.
“What do you mean?” you may say. Don’t I have to take my responsibility and carry my own weight and take care of my own worries?
No, at least not if we carefully seek the voice of the Shepherd and we take the time to listen to Him. While it is true that our choices are our own responsibility, still God never meant for us to carry our burdens, sorrows and worries in our own human strength. He wants to lead the way. We don’t have to do that.
How do we let Him lead? By listening to the Shepherd.
Listening to the Shepherd is the most important thing we have to do. If we don’t want to listen, it is quite possible we get ourselves stuck in the brambles somewhere. Thankfully, even then the Shepherd will prove faithful and send out a rescue team, but how much better if we would have stayed near the still waters.
Granted, listening to God takes a little time. But doesn’t the Lord deserve our time? Isn’t He worth it? Is it that much to ask to stop your activities for a little while in order to look up into His gentle face? The evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “It’s impossible to do the Master’s work without the Master’s strength and to get it, you must spend time with the Master.”
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
When we spend time with Jesus, He refreshes us. We can’t very well refresh ourselves. We don’t have to feverishly look for ways to refresh our souls. We don’t have to buy expensive medication to fight off stress, and numbing our ruffled nerves by filling our lives with pleasures and fun just to forget the pain of living. It is never going to work in the long run. He refreshes me and He is enough. He knows the best way to the green pastures, He is our life and He ought to lead and inspire.
But isn’t such an attitude a bit exaggerated? Isn’t it a bit much to talk to Him about everything?
No, it isn’t. It’s called the life of faith. Life with God is not living with an idea or a good moral code. Life with God is like a marriage. It’s a relationship. A relationship that is built on love and respect and such a relationship should affect every area of our lives, every day. That’s why Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you all the days of your life.” (Matthew 28:20) And it’s why Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
There’s nothing to fear. Even in the dark, God is trustworthy. Especially in the dark. He is a very present help in trouble. Living in the dark is not easy. When we can no longer see our way and the darkness is closing in on us, it is a temptation to abandon the ship and to think that faith doesn’t work. The devil wants you to think that God has left you or has given up on you.
But true faith doesn’t quit. It may waver sometimes, but in the end it will keep holding on. God said it. He will be with me. After all, is Jesus a liar? Has he said it and shall He not do it? He walks with us through the dark, and even opens the gates of death for us and then carries us safely over to the shores of eternity.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
God prepares the table. He knows what to do with our enemies. Then, He invites us to sit down at the heavenly banquet table. Not because we are so righteous and good. Not because we are so much better than somebody else, or because of our great love and our faithfulness. It has nothing to do with us. It depends only on Him. And because it doesn’t depend on us, but on Him, it is so secure and may we live for ever in the house of God.