But somewhere in my thirties, the words began to ring hollow. The green pastures I envisioned in my mind were belly-deep alfalfa. The still waters were a refreshing lake that shimmered in the sunset. Somehow, that didn’t describe my life.
The still waters had evaporated and left a desert with no green thing in sight, a dry and lonely place where my Shepherd seemed far away. Was Psalm 23 just an outdated poem written for another culture or was I missing something?
Then, one Sunday afternoon, my family and I were watching the DVD series from Focus on the Family called “That the World May Know.” Ray Vanderlaan was teaching from Psalm 23. As the camera panned the rocky, barren landscape of Israel, we saw sheep grazing. On what? The camera zoomed to within inches of the ground before we could see the tiny blades of grass popping out occasionally between the rocks. There was obviously sustenance there as the sheep were alive and healthy, but it seemed hard to believe they could survive on so little. As we continued to watch, the sheep were constantly moving, following the shepherd who took them to the next sparse patch.
Finally, the words of that ancient verse pierced my heart with meaning. The Lord would provide, but only as I needed it. I had to trust Him to stay one step ahead and show me where to move next. My walk with Him would have to be daily because the manna could not be stored overnight. His grace was sufficient, but only for today.
Contrary to much of the Christian feel-good teaching out there, life is seldom a lush green alfalfa field. It is tough. It is rocky. It often feels barren. And if we think that God has promised us lush pastures, the desert times can produce much doubt. Is God not living up to his promises? Is the Bible really true?
What a disservice we do to our children when we misunderstand scripture. We set them, and ourselves, up for failure. Instead we must give testimony to the fact that God is always there, one step ahead of us, showing us the tiny shoots that will give us life.
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