I memorized Bible verses often in my younger years in order to win all sorts of prizes at church. The actual goal of memorizing all those verses, to hide God’s Word in my heart so I might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11), didn’t really sink in until much later in life. But I am thankful for the verses I did learn because, surprisingly, they are still hidden in my heart today, comforting and guiding me at just the right times.
God reveals His character all throughout Scripture, but one specific passage I learned as a child encompasses many aspects of who He is. The twenty-third psalm never fails to remind me of how grateful I am for my Shepherd.
Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. When has He not provided for my needs? He sent someone to drop groceries off on my doorstep when I barely had any money. He gave us friends who loaned us a car when our only source of transportation broke down. He provided every penny necessary to adopt our son. He burdened people to send specific amounts of money when my husband lost his job.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, providing rest, comfort, and time to relax. He lets us enjoy periods of blessing and abundance, delighting in giving us the desires of our heart. He blesses us so we can bless others in return. Our cup overflows with gratitude and pours out onto those around us. He answers our prayers and allows us to taste the richness of His love.
He leads me beside quiet waters. He calls me to separate myself from the daily distractions, to slip away to a quiet place to experience His serenity. He meets me in the silence and lets me breathe again. He guides me to a simpler life so I can experience the peace that comes with less distraction. He opens my eyes to His artistry all around me.
He restores my soul. He reminds me of Scriptures that fill my heart with joy and renew my purpose. He fills me up when I meditate on His word. When life beats me down, He calls me away to spend time alone with Him so He can fix my broken pieces. He wakes me up early, while the world slumbers, to sit in His presence. In the stillness, my heart remembers His constant goodness to me.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He leads the way. He shows me which direction to go or what choice to make. He closes the wrong doors and opens the right ones. He directs my steps so I end up at the right place at the right time. He knows where each path leads and which one will lead more people to Him. I live to make sure others see and know Him.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me. When I trust His guidance, I don’t have to fear walking in darkness. He lights each step and leads me to treasures in the darkest of places. I cling to Him, fully dependent on Him, while He reveals Himself in ways I couldn’t see otherwise. When I can no longer rely on myself or my own sufficiency, He takes me places I would never attempt to go.
His rod and His staff, they comfort me. His rod hurts, but it protects me. He only uses it to redirect me from going the wrong way or making the wrong choice. He wants me to enjoy His presence, to avoid other paths that might cause me to drift away from Him. I take comfort in the staff He uses to guide me because I know the character of the One who holds the staff. He saves me from getting lost or wandering aimlessly. His staff reminds me my life has purpose.
He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He lifts me up. He delights in me so much that He hurts when other people reject me for following Him. If I endure the hardship and look to Him rather than seek retaliation, He will bless me. Others will see me and want what I have–essentially, a relationship with the Shepherd.
He anoints my head with oil. He declares His blessing over me and my life. He gives me a hope and a future, a purpose. He lets me know He will use me in a great way to reach people for Himself.
My cup overflows. When I walk with Him, I am blessed. My life is filled with so many good things that I talk about Him all the time. My heart is full of gratitude because I notice Him in every aspect of my life. His blessings are so numerous that they overflow and touch those around me. More people come to Him, thirsty for His presence, His provision, His comfort, His refreshment, His protection, His purpose, His security, His guidance, and His blessing.
Surely His goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. Now that I’ve tasted a few of the benefits of walking with the Shepherd, I don’t know why I would ever want to take a step in the other direction. When even the hard times lead me to treasures, I know there’s only one way to go. His presence is a guarantee of His goodness, no matter where I am or what happens to me.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. At the end of this life, an eternity in Heaven awaits me. A mansion already built for me. No more sin or tears or darkness. In the presence of Jesus, my Shepherd, forever.
What a precious, priceless passage to hide in my heart.
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