September 10, 2020

Refreshing Shepherd

Psalm 23

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

—  Psalm 23:2-3

Years ago on a retreat, I was instructed to spend three hours praying Psalm 23. My anxious heart panicked. But after getting over the initial shock, I spent three hours rediscovering the power of grace in this precious psalm.

I realized that I had always seen God as a taskmaster, as if his main goal was to make sure I was doing enough for him. Instead, Psalm 23 declares that the Lord is my shepherd—and the shepherd’s desire is to refresh my soul!

There are two powerful blessings in this refreshing.

First, the shepherd knows that life beats up my soul. Life is often confusing. I have to make all kinds of decisions. I try to love people, and I mess up. I make plans, and they often fall apart. Every day I deal with situations that leave me feeling anxious, weary, and discouraged. My soul needs constant refreshing, and the shepherd knows this so well that he walks right alongside me.

Second, the shepherd knows I need green pastures and quiet waters. The beauty here is that these pastures and waters can be different for all of us! Your green pastures and quiet waters may be different from mine. But the shepherd knows you better than you know yourself, and he will lead you to the right places for refreshment.

When I surrender to his leading, God takes me to places where weary exhaustion begins to die, and life is refreshed.

Shepherd of life, help me see the green pastures and quiet waters you are leading me to, and restore my soul. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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