I started this morning with a cup of well brewed hazelnut coffee, my devotional and my iPhone. What a great morning to research a passage that hit me today like never before. From 2006-2011, I lost my brother, mother and father. To be honest, I can't hardly remember those years or their services. I gave all three services and each impacted me deeply and like most services we asked Pastor Jim to read Psalm 23. I always think of that Psalm as one to give at a funeral, that is until today. Today, the meaning of Psalm 23 really hit me and I want to share what I've learned through my research.
Paths of righteousness or straight paths is an illustration of walking along the path that Abraham walked. It illustrates a way of life, then and now, for the shepherd's of that area. One description from a photographer was so poignantly described to me. He said that he stopped to talk to a shepherd after he heard him call to his sheep. He made one noise and they stopped and then he made another noise and they followed. Interesting, don't you think? One noise made them move. The other really interesting thing is a shepherd leads his sheep across mountain paths on a straight line in a zig-zag pattern. Why? Because sheep will just fall off if they don't! Crazy, right? That's what I was thinking until I read that the point of the shepherd is to lead them to safety, in the valley where they can feed and water themselves. It's where they are safe, secure and well fed. On the paths to the valley, they can be treacherous and therefore, they need someone to take them to safety. The sheep follow the shepherd in a straight line to safety. Are you getting the picture?
How often do we fall off the edge, forget to let Jesus lead and then take the consequences. I know I have. I have walked away from Jesus even and still He came after me. Why? Because we are numbered, he loves us and it's in His will to have us follow His voice. One word from Jesus and we are back on the right path. This is the desire of my heart, to be so in tune with Jesus that one word would make me move. Recently, I made a huge decision that could impact my entire life and man did I pray. Scripture came to me in a flood. Especially Scripture about moving my mountain, breaking my chains, going before me, lifting me up and making my paths straight. I hung onto these Scriptures with all my might. I was fighting for my life or was I? Maybe, I was fighting to see that Jesus was making my path straight. You know that Abraham had to be wondering as he was leading his flocks, where in the world is God taking me? He drove animals across the Jordon, over high and dangerous mountain paths. They lived in hot conditions and often with little water and then when the timing was right God led him to the valley where it was beautiful, full of water and all needs were met. It was a place of tranquility, ease and beauty. One shepherd leading another. And that shepherd who left when God told him to, found himself father of all generations.
The trail Abraham and his whole family took is 1200 km (745.65 miles) from Southeast Turkey to Israel. Think about that for a minute. Abraham had to lead women and children along with flocks of animals 745 miles to their destination. The people and animals had to listen so not to endanger themselves and Abraham had to make their paths straight. He was their shepherd, leader, father, master and it was his job to get them to safety. That's what Psalm 23 is saying more then anything else. Jesus is telling us that He will make our paths straight. He will lead us and take us to the valley, where we can find comfort, rest, nutrition, provision and safety.
I really needed this word picture today. I needed to think about the steep mountain paths and the trail that was blazed by Abraham. I really needed to hear David say that God would make my path straight. I really needed Jesus to minister to my heart and remind me that He alone moved my mountain and He alone will bring me to the valley where I can rest and be assured that He will provide. I really needed to be reminded that we all are still on paths of righteousness. Our maker is working in our lives to help us hear His call. With one word, He can move us to safety. What a wonderful Savior to remind all of us that He is our shepherd and He wants to lead us on a straight path right to Him. He is the valley! We will get all the sustenance we need in His arms. Let Him make your path straight today, I know that I am going to concentrate on believing that He will and that He is my shepherd!
Join me in spreading the word. If you like what you read, send it to a friend. Encourage people to look for Christ in Scripture and prayer. Build upon Jesus' words to the disciples and make disciples today. The greatest gift we can give anyone is spreading the word of our Savior. Also, please pray for our missionaries who are giving up their comfortable lives to follow Jesus. Many are facing anxiety and the unknown waiting to see what God will do. Being a missionary is taking on the call of our Lord and Savior which to me is a precious gift to us all. While I sit in my home, I write the words that I hope penetrate the hearts of women everywhere but missionaries go to the people!
I leave you with these Scriptures today. Pray over them and ask God to give you a revelation just like He did for me this morning.
Please pray this Psalm and let Jesus make your paths straight.
Psalm 23 NIV
A psalm of David.
1The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths (He leads me in the paths of righteousness NKJV)
for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord