The Good Shepherd
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name. | Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)
The above verse is probably one of the most known in current UK society. It is very commonly spoken during funerals as a comforting vision of God’s provision and constant care. However it is vitally important to consider this Psalm during our everyday lives. The vision of the Shepherd is one of complete control and comfort, the sheep do not have to think about anything, the shepherd is there to protect them, fight for them, feed them, guide and lead them. Importantly he also keeps them all together as a group, searching for any of his herd who get lost. He never leaves them, is ever watching and present.
This verse was a great comfort to me, and particularly came into focus during a mission trip I was involved in to India. The whole trip was an exercise in giving up complete control to God and fully relying on him. In the UK we often say we are fully relying on God, but the majority of time everything “works”. By this I mean we have electricity, running clean water, a car that normally runs and somewhere to fix it when it doesn’t, safe roads, predictability in our everyday life. Everything runs on a tight time scale; we are rushing through the day without really considering how God is in control.
Whilst I was in India, we had to pray. We had to pray and rely on God to even get us from A to B. Things didn’t work, nothing ran on time, and it was definitely a “culture shock” to say the least. The release I felt, however, was so freeing and peaceful. To fully put my trust in God, day after day, completely brought into focus the above verse. It brought a happiness and true joy that I hadn’t felt before, allowing God to be the “shepherd” and to guide us everyday. This gave us strength and peace.
It is difficult to focus on our Shepherd whilst living in a society where everything “works”. If we bring God into focus, remembering that he is Lord over all aspects of our life, we can experience true peace and renewal of our strength as we rest in his embrace.