Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” says it is the Lord who provides our needs. The apostle Paul says in the 4th Chapter of Philippians, “My God will supply your every need.” (Philippians 4:19) We’re on a journey and the Lord is our Shepherd on that journey, walking with us and leading us. No matter where the journey leads us, God is ahead of us. God has been there. God knows the way.
But as we go through the journey, it can get mighty hectic and busy. We can get wrapped up in the journey itself. And so the Psalmist says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” We need the time of stillness in our lives. We need the times of being made to lie down because life can get hectic and we get so wrapped up in it we forget sometimes that which is most important. God, our shepherd, wants us to have a rhythm in our lives between work and rest, striving and relaxing, doing and being. And like a Good Shepherd who leads the sheep to green pastures where they can lie down and they can rest, like the Good Shepherd who leads the sheep to still waters—not the rushing waters where their wool might fill with water and they might drown, but the still waters—so the Shepherd stresses for us the need to be still.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.” To take the time to take stock of our lives, to figure out where we’re headed, and to see where God would have us go.
I remember a few years ago a man told me about his experience with the three-day retreat called Walk to Emmaus and what it meant for his life. He said that he was going, going, going, going, going all the time, busy all the time, and that retreat forced him to be out of circulation for three days. If you’ve been on the retreat, you know they take away your watch and they give you—at least on my walk—a piece of yarn that’s your “Emmaus watch.” And I looked at that piece of yarn 1,007 times during that retreat trying to figure out what time it was. The retreat takes you out of the norm in order to make you be still. And for him it was a time that changed his life. He made decisions on that retreat about the course of his life that made all the difference in the world. What was priority for him after that moment was different but it took being still, it took lying down in the green pastures for a while and nourishing his soul in that way.
The Psalmist says, “He restores my soul.” “The Good Shepherd restores my soul.” Literally, that can be translated, “I come to life again” or “He gives new life to me.”
The Lord gives new life. The Lord gives new beginnings, brings us back to life. It’s part of the Easter message that when we feel dead, in fact, when we are dead in our sins, dead in our grief, dead in our regret, the Lord restores our lives. That is the Good News of our faith. On the journey there may be moments in our lives when we feel dead but God restores our souls.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster