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Still Waters Among Raging Torrents

Learning to listen to our Shepherd

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recently talked with a pastor who missed a scheduled coaching call with me, and when he realized this he apologized, explaining, “This COVID-19 has thrown everything upside-down! I’m having trouble keeping everything straight.” Like my friend, many of us are reeling in turmoil, uncertainty, and a disquieting sense that life has spun completely out of our control.

As I took time to again read the 23rd Psalm, I was quickened by some thoughts that seemed especially appropriate for the season we are in.

The Lord is My Shepherd . . .

The word Shepherd in verse 1 also means ruler, the One in charge, the One who sets our path and gives direction. Our world really does feel very upside-down. A multitude of conflicting voices are clamoring to provide information, opinions, and never-ceasing updates on what is happening around the world. In the midst of this swirling tempest, the Holy Spirit quietly and calmly beckons us to anchor our vessels in the bedrock truth that our Lord God truly is in control. Our Shepherd is gently leading and guiding, while speaking to us about fear and trust. And it’s time for the sheep of His pasture to perk up our ears and do some sacred listening.

He leads me beside still waters . . .

As I continue through this psalm, I am reminded that He invites us to rest. Even though we are in a time when many things have slowed down and even stopped, we need to evaluate whether we are really resting or if anxiety is stirring up so much fear that our minds are on overdrive. We may have extra time, but are we frantically trying to fill it with empty activity? What does real rest look like for me personally during this worldwide forced retreat? What refreshes and re-energizes me? Finding true rest and recreation in this upside-down world is vital for each of us.

Yea, though I walk . . .

I’m also reminded that the path the Shepherd leads us on is exactly right for us, even when it descends into the dark valley. There is a global shadow that seems to be growing increasingly dark. But the Shepherd has not lost control, and we can walk in the path of His “right leading” without becoming paralyzed with fear. Do we trust Him enough to cast all our anxiety on Him? Declaring out loud our choice to follow Him in this difficult season will dispel the suffocating presence of that oppressive shadow and keep us walking in His light.

Thy rod and thy staff . . .

The word “rod” often implies discipline and correction; but it also connotes writing, ruling, and guiding. What might our Shepherd want to write into our stories during this time? What word of direction, comfort, or healing does He want to speak to our souls? Is there a new understanding of His sovereignty that He invites us to see with greater clarity? The rod is fashioned to write something new on our hearts, draw us closer to Him, and bring us to a place where we feel and know His presence.

Surely goodness . . .

We are His sheep! And we must remind ourselves that without His shepherding presence, we are lost. But because He is truly speaking and leading, we can follow Him with confidence, knowing He will sustain us on His good and perfect path. When everything feels upside-down, His reassuring voice will keep us right-side up—as long as we keep listening!

1 response to Still Waters Among Raging Torrents

  1. Thank you, brother, for this reminder that it is HIS path we’re being led on; a fitting follow-up to the instruction of Heb.12:1-2. God is good all the time, not just when it feels good.

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