FYI--There is not half a chance I have the space or memory to recount all that transpired in my heart and the life of our family as I pondered these familiar verses in 2017.
It began with setting my table for Family Dinner for Palm Sunday. The seemingly simple choice to use a Nature-Themed Table Setting led me to focus on lambs at Easter. Pondering the significance that Jesus is both the Shepherd and the Lamb of God, I turned to the Shepherd Psalm to prepare a placecard for the meal. As I read Psalm 23, in the New Living Translation, it jumped off the page into my heart in fresh ways. He lets me rest. He leads. He renews. He guides. He is near. protects. comforts. prepares. honors. annoints. pursues. He. Not me.
In June, at Joni and Friends Family Camp, the theme was.... ‘I will follow. Psalm 23.’ I saw Shepherd as an action noun, times two. To be a Shepherd, that leads, there have to be sheep that follow. When we got to verse six I shook my head...I thought I was following Him, yet here He is running after me with HIs goodness and unfailing love. He is before me and behind me. I spent the week doing Foot Massages for those whose lives are affected with disability and came away blessed with a renewed awareness of His provision and care for me. How like God to speak to us as we are focused on serving and caring for others.
This summer on a panel I interacted with the truth that...’Time alone doesn’t heal. Jesus heals in His time’. I’ve personally expereinced the Shepherd Who is generously lavish with the Oil of Gladness, Oil of His Spirit, and Healing Balm for the places in my soul that get roughed up with the stuff of life.
In July, through someone’s testimony I heard that ...Because He guides me along right paths the dark valleys are the right path. Really?! This puckered my brow for I had always placed a significant paragraph break between the right paths and the dark valleys. The passage begs me to see that the two are synonomus. My following Him on His path choice is bringing honor to His name. I am never alone.
Thanksgiving Week I spent in Bethany Beach, DE, giving thanks with my husband, kids and grands. I acted on a challenge to memorize scripture and googled for a Psalm of Thanksgiving to memorize as a family while we were there. By this time I’m not surprised to discover smack dab in the middle of the Psalm I choose yet another Psalm 23 reference. It is so sweet to hear the lisp of the littles chiming in with the grownups as we recite with motions, “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.... BAAAAAAA!!” This Gramma’s cup is overflowing with blessings. Grampa has the video on his phone. BTW- The Seagulls lost to the Dolphins in a Beach Soccer match. Rumor has it that the Dolphins won because they did pre-game stretches with Grampa. Sunsets, biking, boating, beach walks and meals shared have left a warm glow of gratefulness in our hearts for the beautiful gift of family that enjoys life together.
I saw Psalm 23 in the Christmas Story. The lowly shepherds who were in an ordinary place received an announcement from the angels of a most extrodinary gift. Their Shepherd was born. The phrase from a carol.... “All the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight”, gathers together the expereinces and sums up the lessons I learned while living life between the lines of Psalm 23. Stepping into each new day, following the Shepherd, Who is pursuing me ........Twila