Psalm 23 (NLT)
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Recently, I was whining to the Lord. Yes. I whine. Sometimes I drink wine. And then I whine some more. Anywho…I was whining to the Lord, comparing my story to a dear friend (this, by the way, is a death trap from the enemy- don’t do it!). “Lord, it’s not fair. She had a shepherd in the church that discipled her every day for YEARS. I didn’t have that. I want that!” He responded abruptly with loving kindness, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”
As the revelation of the Word pierced my soul, the Holy Spirit reminded me how this lost sheep was found, carried into the sheepfold, and continually cared for by the Lord. Once He corrected my short sightedness, I also saw that I have hadshepherds (pastors) who cared for and equipped me. He didn’t deny that a few were more concerned with building their empires than building people, but it’s His responsibility to judge the hearts of man. My response is to acknowledge the neglect, process the pain with the Lord, and forgive. I’m probably not at 70 times 7 yet, but I’ve surrendered my will numerous times to release those who’ve hurt me. My Shepherd has forgiven me –and forgotten my sin. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We forgive because He forgives (Psalm 103:3). Because we, like sheep, have all gone astray (Isaiah 53:6).
As I re-read Psalm 23 in different translations from the one I memorized in the United Methodist Church, hope began to rise. Although the 23rdPsalm is famous as the go to eternal life passage for funerals, it’s also a pathway for abundant life on earth:
- Jesus is my Shepherd.
- In our relationship, I have all that I need.
- He lets me rest.
- He leads me to places of peace.
- He refills my strength when its depleted.
- He guides me into righteous living.
- As I obey Him, it brings honor to His name.
- When I stay close to Him, there is no fear.
- He corrects me with His rod.
- His staff hooks my stubborn neck and draws me back when I wander.
- He brings comfort to the wounds that have been inflicted by the wolf that tries to steal, kill and destroy me.
- He feeds me; His body and blood are a feast.
- In His presence, I can sit before my enemies- and be prepared.
- He anoints me to do good work.
- His Spirit overflows me with blessings.
- He pursues me with His goodness and love.
- He provides the way to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Sadly, Americans have glorified many shepherds in the church. I’ve been guilty of idolizing a few. Blind sheep easily follow spiritual superstars every word through social media, conferences and books. Please hear me: leaders are a giftfrom Jesus to the church. But they are not Jesus. They are anointed to be shepherds to the sheep. But they are not the Lord. The Lord is our Shepherd. We have all that we need in Him. Let us honor Him. Let us honor our leaders in the church. Let us be a holy sheepfold- together. Let us rejoice when the Shepherd goes after 1 and leaves the 99. Let us welcome new sheep into the flock. Let us learn from older sheep and teach younger sheep to become like our Shepherd. My Shepherd. Your Shepherd. Hallowed by His name. His Kingdom come. His will be done!