The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23: 1-4
These famous words from the 23rd Psalm carry a challenge for us as success-driven, stressed out Americans. The central idea in these first four verses is that of following. The word translated as ‘makes’ in Hebrew means ‘encourage’ or invite’. The same idea comes in the parallel verse where the Good Shepherd ‘leads’ us by the still waters, where our souls are restored, or we could say, refreshed. Reading on, it is the Good Shepherd who ‘guides’ us on the right paths, so that even when we walk into darkness, we find comfort in His abiding presence and protection.
The question for us today is, are we willing to be led? Are we willing to follow? There are still waters, green pastures, restoration, wide paths, righteousness and comfort where he wants to take us. Often we miss out on the refreshment that the caring Shepherd has for us because we are simply not willing to be led.
A friend of mine is fond of saying, “It is who you are following, not whose following you that makes you a leader.”
How is God trying to lead you today? Are you listening and watching with an open heart that is ready to follow wherever and whenever the Good Shepherd beckons?
Gracious and loving Father, you so often call to me to follow you with faith, and I so often refuse. Forgive my lack of obedience, my desire to go my own way, my deaf ears and my stubborn will. I so deeply long for the green pastures and still waters that you have prepared for me. I am in such need of your comfort. I ask today that you would grant me the courage and the faith to follow wherever you lead me. I ask that you would continue to call. And I ask that as I obey, you would restore and refresh my soul. In the name of the Good Shepherd. Amen.