By Chuck Griffin
This Sunday, Lord willing, I will preach on the 23rd Psalm at Holston View United Methodist Church. I want to invite you to spend the rest of our week meditating on this “Psalm of David.” To jolt our thought processes a little, I’m using a less-familiar translation, the New Living Translation.
These meditations are based on devotionals I wrote for Luminary UMC in April, during the early days of the pandemic continuing to affect us. If you want, you can split each day into two devotionals, one for morning and one for evening.
Verse 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
What a beautiful opening. But is this what we really believe?
One of the most difficult mindsets to achieve in this life is contentment, the ability to say, “My needs are covered.” And as the psalmist is trying to tell us, there is but one place to find contentment.
By calling the Lord “shepherd,” we say we trust God to care for our needs. We declare that what he gives us will be enough.
We understand the folly of listening to other voices, worldly shepherds telling us, “It’s really better over here. Happiness is on my side of the fence.”
False shepherds call to us for their own selfish reasons. Perhaps they need our votes or they need us to consume for their own profit, regardless of whether our consumption is good for us. Follow them, and in the end we likely find ourselves used up and alone.
It is best to be content in the care of the one who loves us so much that he will seek us out wherever we are.
Verses 2-3a He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.
Certainly, the shepherd urges us forward from time to time, for our own benefit and for the larger benefit of the kingdom. (Never forget, our shepherd is also a king!) Following him, we can grow tired. But there always is rest.
The need for contemplative rest—Sabbath—is built into the very fabric of the universe. And if we trust God’s plan, we can gain much from the times of rest we are offered.
There is sustenance in God’s word, as rich and spiritually nutritious to us as green meadows are to the sheep. By consuming what we find there, we grow. We also drink from the stream of life when we open ourselves to his grace, poured out through a variety of openings. Our prayers, our time in communion, and our fellowship with one another are just a few examples, and enough grace pours forth through these encounters to soak us thoroughly.
In the right cycle of service and rest, we grow spiritually stronger over time, even as our physical vigor fades. God always is willing to give us more than we have given. We simply must remember to stop and receive.
Lord, help me to recognize when you place opportunities for contentment and rest before me, and allow me to grow in my delight of you through the influence of your Spirit. Amen.