Elizabeth Reynolds, Tyndale's Coordinator of Student Mentoring & Spiritual Development, starts off the summer refelctions with Psalms 23. Join us as we journey through the trail of this Psalm, and develop an understanding of how Jesus our Shepherd leads us and provides for our needs where we feel we are lacking.
Hello, Tyndale family, it's Lizzie Reynolds here. And I've been invited by George Sweetman to start off the summer reflections in the Psalms. And I was able to spend time in the Psalms this past winter, leading the Abide reflections. And I chose songs that were quite different, and ones that I had never really studied before in depth. And today, though, I'm going to be sharing a Psalm that is very well known, Psalm 23. It just so happens that this Psalm is so precious to me, it is probably my life verse or my life six verses, which I shelter in, very often. And so I thought this would be perfect to start off these summer reflections. One thing that I love to do on my own or with my family or friends, is take nature walks. And I love when I go on a new hike. And I start out at the beginning of the hike. And I know that along the way, there might be some stops where there might be some reading, where I get to learn about what's going on in this part of the nature walk, whether we're going to look at certain bugs, or certain trees or flowers, or the history of the area itself. And so today, we're going to sort of walk together on a nature walk.
So maybe you're taking this podcast with you on a walk. And so that would be perfect. So this Psalm, Psalm 23, is six verses. And so what we're going to do is we're going to read a verse, and I'm going to talk a little bit about it. And then I'm going to give us time to just pause, and give you some time to speak. So you might just imagine us on a walk, me as the speaker, most of the time, you as the listener, and Jesus walking with us as a shepherd. And so imagine this as a conversation, and a journey together, and we're going to walk and look around in our exterior world. But my prayer is that this walk would be a journey inward, and that we would have several little stops along the way to observe what's happening inside, and how we can connect deeper with our Shepherd who is right there next to us, and recognize Him.
So let's begin, as we start off on this nature walk, with a prayer. Jesus, our Shepherd, thank you for this moment in time where I can spend time with the Tyndale family, and that you can go on a walk with us and journey through these sacred words. I pray that your spirit would guide us, your presence would comfort us, and that you would still our souls. And so as we leave this time together, we might feel renewed and refreshed. To live this, this day that you've made, and that you've given us, in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
So as we start out on this hike, the beginning of the hike is just going to tell us what we're going to see. So I'm going to read the whole Psalm to begin.
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, and He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his names sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff. they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Well our first stop in the walk, is the "Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing". As I walk with you, I'll also share that when I hear this passage, and think that I lack nothing, I say to my shepherd Oh, I feel like I'm lacking a lot things, whether I'm lacking motivation in my work, or I'm lacking connection with my family or my friends, or maybe feel like I'm lacking some material things I want, like, what if you want a pair of new shoes? Or you're thinking about that, you know that that new jacket or new bag or new game, whatever you might be, you know, pining for? Or what about house projects, or getting out in the garden and the things you want, in order to make those things happen? What about Lord, how I feel lacking in relational needs or, or answers to tough questions or, or what's happening next. I feel as though I lack a lot of things, Jesus. And yet, you say here, You are my shepherd. I lack nothing. So we're going to pause here and gaze into our souls. And I ask you, what is it that you feel that you're lacking right now? Maybe things that you desire on a surface level. Maybe some of the things you desire on a deeper level, whether it's to be known or to be loved, or to be seen. Take these moments now to gaze into your heart and speak with our Shepherd, about your many needs and wants and, and then into the deepest desires.
As we journey deeper into this trail, we're on the next marker reads, He makes me lie down in green pastures. And He leads me beside still waters, and he restores my soul. Sometimes Jesus, I feel as though I need to be in an all inclusive vacation to be able to relax or restore fully. Well, we can't do that right now. Sometimes I feel like I need certain people around me to feel restored or, certain times to myself. And yet you say in your Word that you make me lie down in these green pastures, in these still waters, and that this restoring can happen continually. I wonder if restoration can come from a quiet meal, or a walk. Maybe it's a connection and with a friend. Maybe it's a song, or watching the stars, or reading your Word. Take this time now to gaze inside and see where in your day there might be a place to breathe and rest. Maybe it'd be five minutes or, or 10 minutes? Or where can there be a pause? Where can you notice a pause, or a stilling, that Jesus might be providing for you, that you might be missing? Take time to talk to our Shepherd about what's life giving or restorative and how you can be more aware of that today.
Moving further into the trailhead, we read "He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake". Sometimes I think about the path Gods led me on, and I didn't choose to be here. And yet he placed me in a family in a country, in a town, in a job, in friendships, and in a family. And He's chosen me to be there for His name and for His glory. So, let's take this time to look at where God's placed us, to serve and to love, and who he's placed us to serve, and to love. And notice those people and notice those places.
The next marker on our trail reads, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me and your rod and your staff, they comfort me". There's been many dark days this year, many shadowy days, within, and within circumstances. And yet we know that you are our shepherd and that you have led us to these places, led us in love, actually. What has been challenging for you this year? What have been your fears and, what and whom has guided you, and comforted you, in the midst of your dark places.
Moving deeper into this trail, we read, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows". Oh Lord, many times I'm overwhelmed by my anxieties or my habits, or my addictions, or the voids I feel, or the loneliness. I feel like you place me right there in the middle of all of it, all of those enemies. And yet there in that vulnerability, You anoint my head with oil. You reach and hold me in my deepest weaknesses. Take this time now to share with Jesus. What are those enemies? What are those places you feel so overwhelmed by? And maybe you can even sense where He might have his hand upon you, in those weaknesses, with His love.
We move into our final part of this trail. And this reads, "Surely goodness, and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever". I wonder where we see goodness and mercy in our lives today? Can we see it in the creation? Or in a good night's sleep? Where do we sense His goodness and mercy following us? Maybe it's in the silences, or in the words of a friend, in the gifts of teaching and study, in the gift of a job, or in the gift of life and breath, and that we have the opportunity to dwell in You in your shelter, Lord God, forever. Take this time now to see those small ways in which His love is following you. His mercy is all around you.
As we stand at the end of this trail head, and we look behind us, we see that Jesus our Shepherd is with us when we feel like we're lacking, and we have a lot of needs. He is with us to provide rest. He leads us to places to serve for His glory. He leads us into love, with challenges and shadows and darkness, and promises to be there. He leads us to places where we might feel weak and vulnerable. And yet His love will run over us. And he promises His presence every step of the way. Let's pray as we conclude this hike together.
Jesus, our Shepherd, thank you for leading us. Thank you for leading us into places to grow us, to stretch us and evolve us. And also places where we can rest. Maybe we be awake, to see where we can serve, and alert to where we might rest in you. And also give us eyes and ears to see, to taste, to know you're good. Thank you for this journey together. In Jesus name, amen.
Peace be with you, Tyndale family.
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