When I started my journey with Psalm 23 and read this first line, I felt its power descend on me. Instantly, my spirit entered into peace. I wrote in my journal that I could stop right here and not go forward for days and days.
It seems that peace has been short supply for quite some time these days. But with the spread of the coronavirus, many thousands of people dying and the rest of us stuck in our homes, peace is now far, far away. Every time you dare to turn on the news, it's the same - angry, accusing voices, grieving loved ones, cities looking post-apocalyptic and shocking economic predictions. Can peace even be found in these fearsome days? Yes, yes it can!
Please close your eyes, take a deep breath, clear your mind and say those words, the Lord is my Shepherd. Say them out loud. Let them sink down inside of you and spread their peace throughout your entire being.Breathe. Say them again.
Peace is not a place my spirit is familiar with. Stress and anxiety are more my home turf. My earliest memories are of an environment filled with chaos. I was the sixth of seven children and by the time I popped out, our home's angry, toxic and dangerous culture was firmly established. I lived in fear all the time. In fact, I think living in fear was the only way I could feel even a tiny bit of safety. If I am afraid all the time, then I am always on my guard.
It wasn't until many years into my adult life I began to see that the world was different from my childhood home. Not everything was a threat. Even then, I had a long ways to go before I began to relax a little.
One of the results of all this stress was that I had massive, life-long sleep problems. Even as a baby, mother told me, that long after everyone was asleep, I was still up and playing in my crib. Aww, that sounds cute! But not really. It is only in the last two years that I have started being able to go to bed and just go to sleep. Every night of my life up until then, I stayed awake for hours with my mind zooming around the universe. Sleep aids did nothing for me. When sleep hygiene became a thing, I was hopeful. But again, none of those sleep hacks helped me at all. Occasionally, I would read some article on how important sleep is and I would re-double my efforts to get more shut-eye. I would end up angry and frustrated at my failure. And it didn't matter how tired I was or how early I had to get up or even how many nights in a row I had only a few hours of sleep, I still couldn't fall asleep. This meant that mornings were dreadful for me. Always.
The Lord is my Shepherd. (I need that right now after remembering all that.)
Many other aspects of my life were warped and non-functioning as a result of living in constant fear. Here are a few:
- Personal development
- Mental acuity
When I say, The Lord is my Shepherd, I walk out of my cranky, confused and fearful space and into this lush meadow with shade trees, wildflowers and a happy, little stream. Transcendent sunshine floods this quiet place and I am in peace. At last.
I'm not the only one. This single sentence reverberates with peace and comfort throughout time and space. There are countless references to it in songs, books, blogs, videos, sermons, Bible studies and inspirational sayings. It is quoted to those suffering and grieving across the globe. Because it brings the peace and comfort of being loved and cared for by the Good Shepherd.
Now, more than ever, we need our beloved Shepherd. We need to know we are not alone, that he is right here, right now. He is present.
Say it again, the Lord is my Shepherd. Let it bring you into peace.
Or try this, Lord, you are my Shepherd.
Or this! (put your name in here), I am your Shepherd. As if God were saying it to you. Go ahead, try it. It’s crazy powerful!
Now for the bonus material, read the entire 23rd psalm as if the Lord, the beloved Shepherd, were saying it directly to you. Leave me a note and tell me what this did for you.