Along the Road Home

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In case you drove by and did not stop to admire.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving prayer:

The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need.
He lets me lie down in fields of green grass.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths
for the honor of his name.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid.
You are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff
comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
right in front of my enemies.
You pour oil on my head.
My cup runs over.
I am sure that your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life.
And I will live in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23 NIRV

God has given us this prayer because He wants us to pray it, so He can fulfill it in our lives. Lord I fall at Your feet in thanksgiving.

The Well-worn 23rd Psalm

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Aspen grove, Grand Canyon North Rim

This psalm is so familiar that reading it my mind often goes on auto-pilot, wandering unthinking through the words. Other times I get sidetracked into some memory from childhood. When this happens I have to remember to ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and heart, to make these verses jump off the page. After all Jesus calls the Word of God life giving food (Matthew 4:4). Isaiah compares the Word of God to rain and snow sent to accomplish a mighty task, for God’s power stands behind it (Isaiah 55:10-11). Jeremiah 23:29 declares: “Is not My word like fire, and like a hammer that breaks rock to pieces?” So when the words just sit on the page lifeless, I need to ask God for help.
The following is not the final word on this psalm but what I needed for this day.

The 23rd Psalm is about God’s relationship with me:
It is not a prayer, that I say, asking the Lord to be my shepherd. It is God saying “I am your shepherd, I will watch over you.
It is not about my finding water, or a place of rest — I just follow.
It is not about what I try to achieve. He is the one who directs me in path of righteousness by the power of His name.
He is there in darkness and in light, in the good and the bad, no matter where, always, no time outs.
It is not about what happens when I am good enough, or wise enough, or have faith enough. It is God telling me about His relationship to me because it is by His grace, and love, and forever.
Thus the 23rd Psalm is not my prayer to God, but His prayer to me.

The 23rd Psalm?

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Two crows looking for lunch

How can this picture of two scavengers looking for carrion be connected to the 23rd Psalm? A pastoral scene is what usually comes to mind with “The Lord is my shepherd…” But, if you read down to verse 5 of the Psalm the words are a bit unsettling.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5

It strikes me as strange that God would prepare a feast for me not with good friends as company, but with my enemies. What kind of meal is it when you are sitting across from those who wish you harm? Who wants to sit and eat before fear, depression, pain, and evil (to name just a few)? God surely must know a feast is better with joy, blessing, and goodness. But maybe there are certain heavenly foods that can only be served under the severe circumstances of our enemies. Literally, only when we are face to face with danger. It is here with our Good Shepherd that He serves character building food like courage, self-denial, humble dependence on God, mercy, and forgiveness. What my enemy intends for my destruction, God turns into a feast of nourishment and growth that can be had in no other way. Who are your enemies? Please, sit down with the Lord and say grace, for there is a banquet waiting to be eaten.