– Pastor Brandon’s article from the May 2018 Newsletter

“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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

These are the words of one of the most well-known and beloved passages of Scripture, Psalm 23. The message is powerful. The psalm speaks of God’s loving care as the shepherd of his people. He promises to provide for us and to take care of our needs. It tells of God’s gracious work in renewing and restoring us in our inmost being. He lovingly guides us and helps us to walk in righteousness before him and with others.

As I read this psalm, I am also reminded that we all walk through difficult things in life. There are green pastures and quiet waters, but the psalmist also acknowledges valleys of darkness. There are challenges and obstacles that we would rather not face. In the midst of these, we can find ourselves asking God, “why would you let me go through this?” We experience hardship, and we wonder if God is there, and if so, does he care. Impatiently, we sometimes try to forge our own path, rather than allowing God to work out things in his timing. We wander around and stumble in the darkness in need of his leading and comfort.

Yet, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us, and so, we must turn to him and trust in his loving care. During times of darkness and sorrow when we can’t see what lies ahead, God comforts us with his presence. As we follow his leading, we can press on in expectation of God’s ultimate deliverance. Our shepherd leads us to victory. He ministers healing and brings abundance. He showers us with goodness and love throughout our earthly lives, and we can eagerly await eternity where we experience the fullness of his presence.

For me, this is not merely a matter of words on a page that make me feel good as I wait for things to get better. Rather, this is a picture of every-day life. I’m not claiming to walk with God perfectly; in fact, this particular sheep is prone to wander off. But, when it comes to God, this is who he continually shows himself to be in my life: the faithful shepherd. I have experienced his provision, restoration, comfort and hope in countless ways, and today, I am challenged anew to entrust myself to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. I will declare: The Lord is my shepherd.

Pastor Brandon