God has been so faithful to me this past month. I am blown away by His goodness and His wisdom, knowing better than me what I need and what is best.
“The Lord is my shepherd” is one of those ubiquitous verses that people are used to hearing, but may not be used to conceptualizing. But as I walk in faith I have continually come back to this life-changing passage that I used to glance over.
In Psalm 23, David writes “The Lord is my shepherd,” and goes onto describe the relationship he has with God through extended metaphor.
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.
Let’s talk about “I lack nothing.”Every time I read it, this verse challenges me. It humbles me and forces me to look at things from a perspective of gratitude instead of despair. In biblical times, shepherds slept with their sheep to keep them safe from predators. They carried a rod to guide the sheep and a staff (or hook) to bring a wandering sheep back to them. And I see God continually acting in this way to me—guiding me, providing for me, protecting me, restoring my soul.
I’m not a naturally patient woman. I want things to be the way I think they should be, and I often try to control or manipulate my circumstances until they reflect what I perceive as an ideal situation. But reality intervenes, and my attempts to control everything proves ineffective. This is usually when I remember I’m NOT the one in control.
For example, I have this weird intimidation and anxiety about driving on the Interstate. Being inside of a hunk of metal hurling forward at 60 miles per hour messes with my mind. I will sometimes imagine the cars next to me crashing into me and feel panic shake me to the core. And yet, my classes this semester are in downtown Indianapolis, a bunch of my friends live down there, and I simply have to use the Interstate to get places in this city. It is not ideal. I found myself wishing that everything I needed was 5 or 10 minutes away like in Bloomington. And sometimes I would take the long way to get places to avoid using the Interstate.
Later in the gospels, the shepherd metaphor is given more dimension when Jesus tells us in John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me–just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. –John 10:27
God has an interesting way of forcing us to acknowledge darkness and choose His light. Most of the time for me, this involves trusting him above all else. Believing that He goes before me, that He guides me and is keeping me safe. That He is the good shepherd. When I focus on this truth I am able to let go of my fears and live in a mindset of faith and trust, knowing that when I “walk through the darkest valley” God is with me.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phillipians 4:6). With this verse in mind I have been stepping out in faith and trusting God to provide.
- I have been praying diligently and genuinely about the growth of my trust in Him, and this past week I have been able to drive on the Interstate multiple times with Him in mind, even when it was dark and rainy.
- I have been praying for financial blessings in this season of scraping by, and choosing to have faith that my opportunities would pan out. In the past three days I have been contacted by two employers and been gifted with nannying and substitute teaching side jobs.
- I have been praying about my relationship with my brother, for us to be closer despite the distance in our homes. This holiday season God has provided opportunities for us to have fun and have genuine conversations about our lives.
- I have been praying for growth in my community here in Indianapolis, to make new friends and find an awesome home church. Last Sunday I fell in love with Trader’s Point Christian Church. Then I went to a small group for women on Tuesday and felt a connection with many of the people there. I’ve also met a lot of new people by rock-climbing, and reconnecting with friends from camp.
To me, this is evidence of miracles. Most of the time I didn’t sit idly by while these blessings fell into my lap, although some of them certainly did. But my heart trusted God with each step. He is so good.
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
(end of Psalm 23).
**If you ever experience anxiety
- please listen to THIS podcast on Psalm 23.
- Songs to meditate on: