The Living Word:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 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. 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. Psalm 23
The Word In Motion:
Have you ever been reading one of your favorite Bible passages, or one that is so familiar that you can quote it, only to be interrupted by a Still Small Voice?
That happened to me today. Psalm 23. Almost everyone knows it or is at least familiar with it. So I’m reading along – it’s not the version I memorized a million years ago, but I’m reading it like “OK, I know this one, let’s move on.” Then, verse three. He interrupts. “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Now, I have been around long enough to know to stop and listen when He nudges me, so right away I look at the versa again. (MY mind clicks in) “Oh, we must be talking about the “right paths” today. Hmm, yeah they take me beside the still waters and into the green pastures. Oh, and even through the valley coming in the next verse. Yes, Lord, I understand that the paths you lead me on are sometimes pleasant and sometimes hard. You make me teach that all the time. That’s good stuff, Lord. I’ll use that next time I preach. Got anything else.”
I really should know better than to try to think that I know what God is going to say to me in these moments, but that’s me!
“Not so fast, son. What does it say about WHY I guide you along those right paths?”
“Read the end of verse three.”
“Oh… ‘for his name’s sake.’”
“OK, now read the Psalm again with that in mind.”
The LORD is a great shepherd. HE looks well after his sheep. HE makes sure they have enough food and water. HE refreshes them and makes sure they stay on the right path so that whenever anyone sees them, they know they are HIS because no one else takes care of sheep the way HE does. HE does so well that even when they are in trouble they reflect well on HIM. Even his discipline and correction make HIM look like the best shepherd a sheep could ever wish for.
A normal shepherd would set the table in the safety of a castle or somewhere safe, but my Shepherd sets it up, right in the middle of the enemy. Why, because He’s not afraid of them. Not even intimidated. So let’s do lunch right here. He wants to be sure that the enemy sees him anoint my head with oil and that my cup overflows. He wants to be sure that the enemy sees all his goodness and mercy tailing me all the days of my life and that I have a secure dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
So, what does it all mean?
It means it’s not all about me. Oh, I need to be reminded of that again. Yes, I benefit from it all: I get fed, watered, refreshed, comforted, corrected, anointed, refilled, and followed, but this Psalm is all about the Shepherd. He is the one who does it all. We’re like the canvas an artist uses to paint a masterpiece. No one notices how lovely the canvas is. They see the picture painted on it. The picture doesn’t reflect the quality of the canvas, it showcased the talent of the artist. And no one examines the canvas to see who made it, they look at the signature of the artist to give him credit for the wonderful painting. When you are going about living your life – the good times and the bad – you are the medium by which God is demonstrating Himself to the world.
Let God paint a masterpiece on you. Don’t be concerned with the colors he’s using. You need to have the blacks and browns to contrast with the yellows and greens to get the full beauty of the Master.
Be a willing canvas.