Monday, September 13, 2004

Which Psalm 23 are you living?

When I was helping Sue & Jeff clear out their house, I found an unread copy of Max Lucado's Traveling Light, and picked it up to read. Now I know - as a good seminarian, I should be reading Kirkegaard or Moltmann or some such stuff. But as a temporarily-sidelined seminarian, I needed some inspiration - and Lucado was the first writer I read as a new Christian that "clicked" with me.

He still does.

(My apologies to my LifeLine and Connections email devotional friends for having to read this twice.)
><>I am my own shepherd. I am always in need. I stumble from mall to mall, job to job, and shrink to shrink, seeking relief but never finding it. I creep through the valley of the shadow of death and fall apart. I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I'm starting to act like my mother. I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am surrounded by my enemies. I go home, and even the goldfish scowls at me. I anoint my headache with extra-strength Tylenol. My Jack Daniel's runneth over. Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life. (Max Lucado, Traveling Light (2001: Word Publishing), page 26)><>
><>The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (the original Psalm 23, NIV)><>
Well, that's pretty clear. Self-reliance, or God-reliance. Where do you spend most of your time?

Sorry to say, but I wish my answer was the right answer more times than not. As a friend of mine often says, "I wish it were so...but it ain't."

No lengthy confession or sharing of experience this day - no essay or treatise on God-reliance. Just one question for this Monday morning:

Am I willing to live in God's gift of today, and leave my finances, my health, my employment, my calling - my life - in the care of the One who created me? Or am I just gonna tough it out on my own, once again? Do I really, really want my results, over and over again?
Dear God of mercy and of infinite power, help me choose You - to choose Life - this day, that I might truly live. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I really appreciated it. Although, strictly speaking, Psalm 23 is not, of course, a lament psalm, like so many of the other psalms, it does acknowledge the chaotic darkness of the world. It invites us to reflect on the reality of walking in such darkness and promises not that we will be spared from it, but that a shepherd-light shines therein, and the darkness has not overcome him. Reading this paraprase of the psalm reminded me of Irenaeus' invitation for us to see the world through 'grace healed eyes'. Similarly, I was reminded of the words of Helmut Thielicke who once said, ‘There is no wilderness so desolate in our life that Jesus Christ will not and cannot encounter us there ... There is no depth in which this Saviour will not become our brother ... He comes for us wherever we are ... For that is his majesty.’ (How To Believe Again, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), 60.