I recently sat down to review some of the work I’ve been doing over the past few months, and, as most of you will probably know, I’m finishing up a couple work-things as part of the final preparation before leaving for Zambia.
Anyway, as this review came up, I was reminded of my last “working day” of 2018.
I was still in Mahahe, Namibia, and I had 8 hours to go before getting on the bus to Zambia (via Zimbabwe and Botswana — yes, things don’t always go as planned but that’s part of the adventure).
I was writing about John the Baptist, as part of the series of stories I’m doing for Online Church, and consulted my friend Hugo about the Theology of baptism.
Obviously, this is an important subject to write about. I wanted to be extra careful to write the Truth, and to not sound preachy while doing it.
These children’s stories are available free of charge online — that’s a rather large audience, and, of course, I don’t know these kids’ knowledge or background regarding baptism. And, aside from the children, there will be parents watching and hearing and processing this too. How do I write the Truth without involving Theology?
Rather than advising me about what to write, Hugo suggested that we should pray about it. Which we did. And then I wrote what Holy Spirit lead me to say.
This extract from Psalm 23 is part of those writings.
As I look back on the adventures of the last few months, and the craziness of the last few weeks, I’m drawn closer to times of prayer — leaning in to the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Psalm 23 is probably one of the most well-known Scriptures, right along with John 3:16&17, and 1 Corinthians 13, though I doubt we take the time to dissect this passage, and to pray over it.
The past few weeks and months have presented various challenges and difficulties, but as Hugo reminded me, when we face a problem — physical or spiritual — the best thing we can often do about it, is to pray.
David, when he wrote this song, was a young shepherd boy who lived in the field with his flock. There was nothing famous or important about him, but he knew how to hold on to and grasp revelations of Truth.
Just as David was taking care of his sheep, he knew God was also taking care of him.
As a kid who grew up in the lush green that the Northern Drakensberg had to offer, I’ve always imagined Psalm 23 to resemble the rolling foothills of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
However, upon visiting Israel in October 2018, I came to know the bitter truth — the green pastures David spoke of look nothing like the paradise of my childhood.
The reality of the Psalm 23 in which David’s praise-song was set, was rugged and harsh desert landscape, just outside of Palestine.
But, the more I looked around, I noticed that it was in fact not just rocks and desert, and a hot wind that scorched your skin. There is some grass! And the modern-day shepherds, just like the shepherds of old, I’m sure, knew where to find the good stuff.
They weren’t following the flock from rock to rock, but they were walking in the front, with the sheep following them, leading them from one patch of shade to the next, providing shelter and food as they went along.
The Shepherd does not only ward off danger, herding the flock together, He walks in front of the sheep and He shows them the paths of Life. He provides for the body, and for the soul.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
You see, so often, we have things backwards.
When we’re confronted with difficulty, we should draw near, and not shrink back, from Him who restores our souls and gives us rest.
Is there any better approach to solving a problem than asking the Shepherd who knows all things how to approach it?
In Him we always have more than enough.
This gives me the courage to press forward, even if the future seems unstable and uncharted.
I’ve been living out of a suitcase for 126 days, and each in-between-suitcase-day has been absolutely worth it. I’m looking forward to the suitcase living and planned (and unplanned) adventures that lie ahead!
I don’t know exactly how things will turn out, but I trust the Good Shepherd, and that’s more than enough! All in pursuit of the Kingdom!
Cornelia’ version of Psalm 23
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. The Lord gives me a place to rest — I am safe in His love. The Lord makes me whole, and gives me new life. He shows me the paths of life, and leads me to walk in His ways. By walking where He guides me, I bring honour to His name.
Lord, when your path takes me through valleys of darkness, I will not let fear be my master because You take care of me. You remain close to me, and lead me all the way!
In your presence, I am strong, and my heart is filled with peace. Your love comforts me, and takes away my fear. I will never be lonely because you are always near!
You anoint me with your Holy Spirit, and you fill me until my heart feels like it will burst!
I am not afraid of the future because Your goodness and love is always with me — all the days of my life.
And afterward, when all my days have been lived, I will enjoy your presence — forever with You!
God watches over us. He takes care of us, and gives us everything we need. In His presence we are safe and fully loved.
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6