The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23: 1-3
We live in a self-service world.
- We pump our own gas – unless you live in Oregon
- We get directions from our GPS – so we don’t have to ask for directions at the gas station
- We diagnose our own ailments with a quick search of WebMD – either we’re fine or we’re dying afterward.
- We decorate our own birthday cakes with Pinterest – well, maybe we fail at this more often.
The list can go on and on. Sometimes being able to take care of things on our own makes life easier. But sometimes it just adds to our grief. Learning when to ask for help can be difficult when we society tries to convince us that we don’t need help. Or asking for help makes us weak. We get a false sense of security that we don’t need anyone else at all.
Today’s psalm is a familiar one. I think many of us love the images of peace and protection. We want the Lord to be our shepherd but I’m not sure we know how to be good sheep. The first three verses follow a pattern.
- He makes me lie down in green pastures
- He leads me beside still waters
- He restores my soul.
- He leads me in paths of righteousness
Our independent self often rewrites these words. We change all the “He” to “I” and take on the work ourselves. We work and plan to control our lives
- I will work 60 hours a week so that my pastures are green.
- I will plan my day and my families day down to the last minute so I can control our moments of still waters.
- I will schedule times of worship, days at the spa and incredible vacations in order to restore my soul.
- I will map and plan and parse my path so that I fit the mold of a perfect, Christian woman.
The psalmist is clear, it’s not us who does the work in Psalm 23. It’s our Shepherd. The hardest part in our independent, self-service world is getting out of the way of God and letting him do the work. Will we be in control? Will I get to choose the type of grass I’m lying down in? Or the path I’m heading down? Not always, but since I’ve proven to myself I’m not always good at leading, I’d rather have the Good Shepherd in charge anyway.