Wednesday April 27- “He restores my soul..”
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long “Where is your God?”These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5)
“He restores my soul..” The shepherd restores his sheep who are “cast down.” That is when they happen to get on their backs and can’t right themselves. They are easy prey for wolves, hawks, cougars, coyotes. When he sees the hawks circling he runs to find the sheep that is cast down and will gently, slowly right it.
Christians are not exempt from being depressed, discouraged, distressed in soul, feelings of hopelessness and without strength. David writes, ”Why are you cast down O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…”
Sheep are creatures of habit. If left on their own they eat the same grasses down to the roots, walk the same trails which will become gullies, drink from the same water area which will become polluted. These are destructive habits. He rotates the sheep so they don’t eat up all of one pasture, so there are ruts, pollution. They will get parasites, so the shepherd has to keep the sheep on the moves. Sometimes every week, sometimes every day. The shepherd has a deliberate plan of rotation. This type of land management is what David had in mind when he wrote of being led in the paths of righteousness. The sheep need to be led to the new pastures as we need to be led in the paths of righteousness.
But we are creatures of habit also. We don’t want to move out of our ruts, even if they are destructive, such as living with abuse or drug addictions. It is more familiar staying in these ruts than going out into the unknown, where Jesus may be leading us. It is a matter of trust. Do we trust our good shepherd? Are we willing to follow him?
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, for you are with me…”
In the spring the shepherd leads his sheep up to the high country for the summer. There the grass and water is more plentiful. But to get to the high country he must lead his sheep through the valleys, slowly. There is also grass and water along the way, but also dangers. The valleys are formed by the mountains or high country. Sometimes the cliffs are high and only a few hours of sunlight reach the valley floor. It is dark. There are predators lurking among the rocks. There are possibilities of flash floods, surprise storms. But the shepherd is prepared. He is on the look out for wild animals and ready to fight them to the death to protect his sheep.
He leads his sheep through the valley, they don’t stay there. There is green pasture and bright light once through this rough area.
So it is in our lives, spiritually and physically. Jesus said we would have tribulation in this life, but He promises, “be of good cheer I have overcome the world.” He will walk with us through our dark valley. We will not be in it forever. Even if there is death. He promises a bright future with him. Where there won’t be any flash floods, predators, illness, hardship.
Do we trust him in the deep valleys of our lives? Believing there is an end to our suffering, believing the promise of Jesus that He is with us always and will bring us to eternal life?
(by Gerrie Wilkowski)