Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Your Good Shepherd

Dear Friend,

Last Sunday we opened our worship service by reading Psalm 23. Because that Psalm is so often read at memorial and funeral services, seeing and hearing the familiar words can evoke a cloud of memories – some from long ago and perhaps some still painfully recent. And if we rush on through  this psalm with thoughts from our past, we may miss what God is wanting us to hear today.

We may either get stuck on or gloss over the words: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” But the words “shadow of death” are translated from one compound Hebrew word meaning a place of “intensely thick darkness.” It means a place of terror, calamity and despair. We will walk through the valley of death just one time in our lives, but we walk through that dark and dreadful valley of despair many times. We walk through that valley when we have experienced that seemingly unbearable loss of a loved one – when that relationship ends through abandonment, divorce or death. We walk through that valley when our heart breaks for our children and grandchildren. We walk though that valley when we get the call from the doctor’s office. We walk through that valley when the unthinkable happens. But no matter how many times we walk through the valley, we walk not alone. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

I am the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
John 10:11

We were reminded last Sunday that one of our traditional Christian beliefs is the Doctrine of Incarnation. We may never have used those exact words but we know that Jesus is the Son of God – the Savior – the Word – the I AM. The Good Shepherd. That’s good sound theology to which we can all say “amen.” But the best part can be the most difficult for us to really get: Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd!” Jesus is not just the Shepherd, He’s YOUR Shepherd. This is almost just too big for us to wrap our brain around. God created the Universe and then He created our World. And He created YOU. And then He told you that He will be your Shepherd. The Almighty God who created the Heavens and Earth has made YOU the object of His concern and care!

Jesus has chosen you; He calls you by name; He knows you; He provides for you; He gives you rest while He protects you. He gives you eternal life and no one can snatch you out of His hand! (John 10) And, He invites you to dwell in His house – in His presence – forever. (Psalm 23:6) In His presence, you have His provision and protection and you shall not want because you’ll have all you need. The good Shepherd is YOUR good Shepherd, and that’s the most amazing blessing of all..!  AMEN?