Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Is there an angel in the house?

"Is there an angel in the house?
If there is,
come to me…
and if you aren't too tired,
or otherwise occupied,
and if it isn't too tacky a request,
please rock me.
I am bruised.
If you will hold me until morning,
I promise I will rise and light the fire
and break the bread and put back on my shoulder
my corner of the world.
But for now I could use the shelter of a wing.
Excuse me,
Excuse me,
is there an angel in the house?"

 (Pat Schneider, b. 1934)

The valley ...

a little journey through psalm 23: part 3

And when I walk through the valley, overshadowed by death,

I will fear no harm, for you are with me. 

Your rod and staff ---they comfort me.

Isn't that beautiful?

We are walking through a valley right now, aren't we?

Whether or not we acknowledge it, this pandemic is the "overshadowing" of death.

And it is scary.

It just is.

Those who say it is not are either in denial or lying.

Christian cliche chirpiness is beyond irritating to me right now. 

Smiley Christians acting like nothing is wrong, still holding church services in defiance of government orders. As if God will protect us from our own stupidity.

That is why I love the Psalms.

Honest ...

Real ...

Vulnerable ...

Yet, full of faith.

Faithful.

So, here King David acknowledges reality - the shadow of death, a valley, 

and then he states what is equally true.

"I will fear no harm,

for You - God, my shepherd - are with me."

No matter how dark this valley gets, God is with me.

"Your rod and staff" - tools of guidance and protection - "they comfort me."

What beautiful imagery.

This day ... can you memorize just these few verses?

And when you get overwhelmed by the valley and the shadow,

remind yourself that your good, gentle, powerful Shepherd is with you and will protect you.

No matter what.

The only disaster ...

"The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.”

Malcolm Muggeridge - (1903-1990)

The Shepherd's way ...

a little journey through psalm 23: part 2

God is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

You lay me down in lush meadows.

You guide me toward tranquil waters, reviving my soul.

You lead me down paths of righteousness, for that is your way.

I have always marveled that the first thing King David says God does - just after he states that God is his shepherd and that he lacks nothing - is lay him down in lush meadows.

Not - "God puts me to work" or "makes me study hard" or "asks me to set goals for my life."

No, God lays him down in lush meadows.

The very first thing God the Great Shepherd does for King David is to cause him to rest.

To seek peace and quiet and repose.

What does that tell you about the heart of God toward you?

What might this give you permission to do?

Then, God guides King David toward tranquil waters ... a source of refreshment, a source of soul-deep revival.

Water, the one simple thing we need for life.

God, the Good Shepherd doesn't always guide toward wine, cheese or meat, but he does guide us toward life-sustaining, soul-reviving water.

We can rest in his Providence. We can trust that when our soul is weary, he will provide a resurgence of strength for us.

And he leads us toward ways that are right and good and true and just.

I picture a shepherd gently leading his sheep - not forcing, not coercing, not driving - but gently leading.

When we feel lost, when we feel powerless, helpless, hopeless, we can trust our Good Shepherd to gently guide us in ways that are right, not for us alone, but for our neighbors, as well.

For that is the Shepherd's way.

His way is always right and good.

God is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Amen.