Image of Coastal Bend families, watched over by our Shepherd
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I 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 mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
During my internship as a pastor-in-training, I majored in funerals. I did my first solo funeral and was a part of nine (9) funerals. That number pales by what is being experienced in our churches today, but every funeral is important and has an impact on the person officiating. A dear friend often said funerals were the toughest for him and he would eat almost a gallon of ice cream before the funeral to coat his stomach. In all nine of those intern funerals, this Psalms was used. My mentor and dear friend in ministry, the late Rev. José M. Galindo would give a powerful introduction to this psalm. This introduction would catch the attention of all there, and then the words of the psalm would take over and bring the beginning of peace to those gathered in grief. Yet, this psalm is not just about the end of our life, it is about all of it. Every child should know it by heart and use it as part of their prayer life, for indeed, it speaks of God's presence, power, and peace.
God provides for our every need. We may not be aware of it, and even some may claim they don't need it. Yet, God is there, walking with us, providing us the opportunities for receiving and enjoying what our bodies and spirits need: rest, restoration, and renewal. God provides strength in the face of fear, just by our knowing that God is right there with us; we face nothing alone. Whatever enemy we have, sees our God preparing a wondrous meal of victory and celebration, yes, even before the battle - that sends a strong message to our enemies: You are defeated even before you begin!
In moments when we think we don't matter or count, God's anointing oil of belonging and love comes upon us. And if you glance and see a shadow or two or three, it might just be God, God's goodness, and God's mercy walking with you. And if ever you felt homeless in any sense of that word, think again; God even provides His house for us in which to dwell. Not just for now, but our "whole life long."
PRAYER: I pray, Lord, that You are my shepherd; there is nothing I need more than You. You walk with me, You provide the times and places for my rest; You lift me up when I feel down. You lead me, and if I follow, I will find myself on the right way. And when I face things that cause me great fear, You are there and You protect me. Lord, I love when an enemy, such as illness or loneliness or sadness comes to attack, and there You are preparing a victory celebration. Thank You, Lord. And when I feel invisible to others, pour over my head that oil of joy and meaning. May the shadows of You and Your goodness and mercy be cast over me as I walk this day. In Christ Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I pray, amen.
Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!