The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
Psalm 23:1 (NLT)
This past two weeks have been some of the busiest weeks I have had in sometime. Yet, in the midst of doing, I have neglected being. In the midst of working for God, I actually neglected God. Its fascinating to me, how easily our desire to do good can be manipulated into something that actually keeps us from God. Our distorted altruisms morph into an ambition that is really about self unless we are focused upon God.
I am reminded of the simplicity of devotion this morning with the well known scripture of Psalm 23. It simply says "The Lord is my shepherd". This speaks to our souls on a number of different levels:
1. "The Lord" and not anything else is the be our guide, provider, and protector. The Hebrew word is Yahweh. God, almighty is to be our ultimate shepherd. Sixteenth Century Church Reformer John Calvin once quipped that the heart of humanity is a factory for idols. I find that there is something in our hearts that continually wants to substitute the words "The Lord" for anything. Often, our "Lord" is not Yahweh, but relationships, spouses, careers, positions, identities, and possessions. This scripture invites us to take inventory of exactly who and what is influencing and leading you.
2. "is my shepherd" is phrase that suggests ownership. As Dr. Haddon Robinson puts it: "Many people know that God is a shepherd, but few know that he is their shepherd". To know God as shepherd is to specifically and intentionally live our lives based upon the Word of God, and seeking to truly follow Jesus (Please read John 10:27). We often mistake knowledge of God, with knowing God. We follow God by learning the ways of Jesus. This is why Jesus says "I am the way, the truth, and the life".
3. "I have all that I need" suggests that when the Lord is our shepherd, we are content. I am recognizing that much of my own disordered behavior (yes, we all sin!) comes from seeking to be satisfied by God substitutes. Early Church Father Augustine stated that we have a "hole in our hearts in the shape of God". We were created to seek God and to be whole in him. Our tendency is to desire completeness in our selves, which leads to loneliness and further discontent.
Maybe you are like me, and have allowed yourself to drift away from God due to any number of reasons: busyness, consuming relationships, or engulfing career development. Perhaps, you have never really connected with God in the first place. I invite you to join me in reflecting daily on the God who is my shepherd, and desires me to be complete in him.
May God bless you today,
Pastor M Traylor