Psalm 23: When “He” becomes “You”

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
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;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Neighborhood Trees #1 | Cypress, TX | January 2023

Can you identify specific times in your life when God’s presence, provision, and protection were most needed? Three times come immediately to mind for me. When we were first married and at the seminary where I was studying to become a pastor, we faced some very significant challenges. Although Diane had graduated with honors from Valparaiso University, the only job she could find was rather menial and quite low paying. We soon faced a financial challenge that had us sitting on the floor of our living room and counting all the money we had in the world. It was something like $4.17. We had food in the pantry. The rent wasn’t due right away. But we knew we needed God’s provision. We decided to get a student loan. One thousand dollars made all the difference in the world and we managed by the grace of God – and his provision of other financial aid – to make it through those four years of postgraduate education with a total of $1,000 in debt!

Then came the trip across the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The further we traveled west to our first assignment in Vernal Utah, the more anxious, fearful, insecure, and inadequate I felt. By the time of my installation service, I was physically sick from anxiety. Churning stomach. Crampy gut. Washed-out face. Spaced-out eyes. How I needed God’s presence and peace. I finally realized it, and thank God for our time and experiences there. The four years of God’s presence, peace, and provision, sustained us in ways too numerous to recount.

Our fourth son was born more than 5 weeks early. He weighed 3# 12 ½ oz. He was tiny and for a while we were worried that he had cystic fibrosis. Well, actually, I was more worried than Diane. She saw how healthy he was and correctly didn’t fret about the diagnosis like I did. God’s protection of this tiny baby was a blessing we both experienced on the Sunday morning he was baptized. Not in church, but in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, and from a styrofoam cup, not at a baptismal font. But we both knew at the moment of his baptism there were promises of God attached to him that previously had not been. What peace that brought to our hearts.

When these things happen in our lives we can talk about God, “He…” But we can also talk to God, “You…” That’s what David does in this psalm. And so did we during those times of challenge, danger, anxiety, and uncertainty. So can you. Whatever you are facing, you can talk about God. And you can talk to him. He listens…even though he has much to do. Last night we closed our choir practice with prayer. One choir member prayed, “God, you have so much to do. Thank you for hearing our prayers and answering them.” In a way, that was talking about God as well as to him. He does indeed have much to do. And we can talk with him about our needs as well. He hears us. Thank you, God! Amen.

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