Scripture: Psalm 23
Rev. William Sloan Coffin put our dilemma this way … we put our best foot forward but it’s the other one that needs the attention.
The psalmist has something to teach us all and that he knew how it felt to be drained by life into ultimately experiencing the renewal of God spirit.
The King James version translated Psalm 23:4 is this “yay though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” The Hebrew word translated as death literally means darkness. It could therefore refer to the dark days of grief surrounding the loss of someone cherished.
Ephesians 5:8 proclaims: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
The imagery of darkness and light takes us back to the very first day of creation in the opening verses of Genesis. There, God speaks light into existence, seeing that the light is good and separating the light from the darkness.
The first sentence of Psalm 23 can be read as a statement of belief or a pledge of devotion. As a proclamation of faith, it means: because God is my shepherd, I will not lack for anything. God will provide everything we need in this life.
David: He experienced tragedy and grief; his son Absalom’s death was very painful. He grieved because he loved his son, and despite all his efforts, he had not been able to reconcile with him. He grieved because Absalom died, not only in rebellion against his father, but also in rebellion against God.
He had to let go of his desires and trust God to provide him with what he truly needed.
David struggled with wanting more than the Lord provided and had to Reign himself in to find contentment
David let God be the true Shepherd of his life and trusted God to calm his restless desires and meet his needs.
David could do this because he had discovered God to be nurturing.
David had to be made to lie down in Green Pastures and had to be LED to the still waters.
Spending time with God and knowing God, is the first and most important part of biblical self-care, but there has to be intentional effort on our part, too.
What is INTENTIONAL PRAYER?
Mark 1:35 says,
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
The 23rd psalm contends that God renews us to nurture wisdom, forgiveness, companionship, mercy and joy even when our lives are far from perfect.
I read about a pastor who’d been honing his pastoral craft for 45 years. He estimated he had led at least 5,000 prayer meetings and said I have heard thousands of requests for God to help people with every sickness known to humanity. Hundreds of times parents have asked for prayer for troubled children and aging parents. Petitions for God’s help in finding a job, passing a test, finding a companion or for giving birth have been frequent.
Only rarely however has anyone in these 5,000 prayer meetings said my soul is depleted. I am weary of my life, of myself and my responsibilities. I keep wanting things that do not help. I need God’s renewal.
That is why we so desperately need our Community of Faith. As we are gathered together in big and small groups, one-on-one or in a congregation, we can help one another admit our restlessness and turn to each other’s focus to put it back on God who restores our souls.