S (Scripture): Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.
5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.
O (Observation): This famous psalm is a psalm of assurance for those in dire circumstances. This faithful witness provides hope to all who are facing difficulties.
This psalm is full of wonderful images that contrast the challenges facing the person described in the psalm.
A dark valley full of danger, with God protecting with rod and staff. Enemies ready for battle, but a table – a sign of comfort and fellowship – where opposing forces will come together in peace. And instead of death and peril chasing the psalmist down, goodness and mercy (faithful love) will pursue.
Comfort and mercy in challenging times.
A (Application): With this psalm as our guide, we are given assurances (and reassurances) that God does not leave us orphaned or alone.
Six years ago, I was installed as pastor of the congregation I am now serving. A little over 6 years here and a little over 4 years in a prior call. Over 10 years of experience…and I’ve had my ups and downs – valleys and mountaintops – in both places.
On March 31, I will have been married 17 years…and yes, ups and downs, to be sure.
Kids…our oldest will be 15 on Feb 23. Our middle just turned 12. Our youngest is 5. Ups and downs? You betcha!
But through it all…through multiple moves (living in many states and in many places over the last two decades)…through debt and financial struggles…through ups and downs…God is with us.
God has been with us, even when confronted with enemies or challenges beyond our control. God has been with us, giving us images of sustenance, leading us beside still waters and making us whole, when we have felt broken.
Sometimes it looked like family, friends, or strangers entering our lives and making us feel whole. Too many stories to share here. But please see this as my witness to the joy God has brought to my life – so that I might share that joy with others. And i hope God might use me to be the sustenance for others around me – for friends, family, and even strangers.
P (Prayer): God, create a wholeness in me. Help me to be a part of your mission to bring healing and wholeness to others around me. Amen.