Who is your shepherd?
“The Lord is My shepherd” answers the psalmist, David the King and shepherd himself.
If someone asked you, “If you were made for success, to flourish, then why do you suffer? Further, why do the “beloved” of God suffer? This questioning often follows a terrible experience which makes us turn away from God. One writer said that the cognitive dissonance makes us do mental gymnastics to make sense of it.
I wholeheartedly suggest you take time to read a psalm per day. If you don’t have a favorite one or two, get one. I especially like the idea of rewriting a favorite of two. Putting it in my own words puts it deeper into my heart and soul. I own it.
Years ago, as he was leaving the office, a reporter asked Ronald Reagan, “If you had one last speech to deliver to America, what would your final words be? The president thoughtfully responded by quoting the 23rd Psalm – eloquently, and perfectly from memory. One reporter said to another, “Boy, he sure knows that psalm.”
The reported replied, “No, he knows that shepherd.”
As I claim “The Lord is my shepherd,” I discover that I have everything I need. Like a sheep He lets me to rest in comfortable green meadows. Sheep won’t drink from turbulent waters, so I am led to a peaceful stream, a place of refreshment. When I’ve been up against it, had a long day, or been through the trials, You renew my strength. You guide me along right paths, so that I honor Your name. Even when I walk through “the valley of the shadow,” the dark valley of trials, spiritual or physical death, I don’t fret because You are with me, close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Note: a rod was a long shaft with a big knot on the end used against animals, enemies; the staff has a hook-shaped end, used for guiding sheep away from bad places). In the end, You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil in my honor and use it also to heal my wounds, (as You would a sheep that was caught in the thorns of the day) We celebrate together. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will be with me all the days of my life, and then I will be with You, Lord, forever.
When you face the path of pain, you either go under or over. But if you go over, you come to know God as you never would have, and more so than otherwise. In one of his great songs “Through It All,” Andrae Crouch sang these words: “I’ve learned to trust in Jesus. I’ve learned to trust in God. If I never had problems, I wouldn’t know (personally) God could solve them.”
When we sign up to become a believer in the Good Shepherd we are not the only sheep in His herd. That means we need to share communion with others as well as empathy and help. Our calling starts and ends as a beloved community, filled with like and unlike folks. We must share other’s burdens and the sorrows of this world. Paul reminds us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice,” he charges, “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.