The Lord is My Shepherd

It is fitting that tonight the Bible opened to this Psalm:

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.

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 comfort me.

You set a table before me in front of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days.

Psalm 23:1-6

I have always equated this psalm with death.  But as I read it now, I see that it is all about life! With the Lord as our shepherd, what can we need?  He provides us with everything.  Green pastures to lie down.  (Think about a beautiful green pasture.  I cannot help but smile when I think of a bright green pasture lit against a blue sky.  Peaceful.  God provides us with rest for our mind and body.  There is so much around us that is just beautiful and peaceful if we stop and look.)  Still waters — to restore us.  Water to drink.  Water to wash over us.  Water to restore us and give us new life.

He guides us along right paths. (Oh, how I wish I would stop trying to explore on my own!)

And then the death part — even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…  I will fear no evil for you are with me.  At our darkest times, God is with us.   David goes from talking about “the Lord” to talking very familiarly about “you” because in our darkest times, God is right there.  He is not a far off being, referred to in the third person.  He is right there, as a friend, as a confidant, as a protector.  “I will fear no evil for you are with me.”  He is there as a father: “your rod and your staff comfort me.”

This is not about death — this is about life.  Life here on earth where God walks with us, provides for us and pursues us with His goodness and mercy.  Our cup overflows with God’s love.  And life with God for endless days.  God sets His table before us — He invites us to join Him.  He pursues us with His goodness and mercy.   He pursues us.  Imagine the power if we pursue Him.

Oh Lord,

I ask you to be with those who are walking through the shadow of death.  Lift them up.  Show them your goodness and mercy.

Thank you for pursuing me and never giving up.  I pledge to pursue you.

St. Patrick and the Good Shepherd

I had no idea that St. Patrick worked as a shepherd for a period of time.  It is true you learn something new everyday and that is what I learned today.

I say that only because of the coincidence of where the Bible opened today.  Today I opened the Bible to Jesus’ description of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of John:

“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

John 10: 14-16

I have read or heard this part of the Gospel many times before.  But what I heard today was: we are all one.  Too often it seems we try to split up into teams, sides or folds.  We focus on our differences.  There are so many today who may not feel like they are in the fold.  I suppose we all feel like that at times.  But Jesus’s words are clear.  Whether you belong to the fold or not, He came here for you.  Regardless of your country, your race, your preferences, your religion, we are all one flock.  And Jesus came to shepherd us all.  To lead us to our Father.  To lay down His life for each and every one of His sheep — even when we feel completely lost and left out of the fold. Even when the world tries to separate us.

St. Patrick  found sheep who weren’t in the fold and brought them to God.  He helped Ireland hear God’s voice.

Lord, help me be like Patrick.  Help me reach out to those who may feel outside the fold. Help me to ignore the differences between others and me (all of which truly are minor),  and to not get caught up in the divisions that differences create.  And finally help me listen to You!  Shepherd me O Lord!