Saturday, January 01, 2005

This Year I Want to be a Sheep - 1

I took a break from my read through the Old Testament over the Christmas holidays, and spent some time in the Psalms. I came yesterday to Psalm 23.

It is one I know so well, I can slip through it with nothing registering at all. Instead of glossing over it, as I was tempted, I decided to examine it phrase by phrase and let my wool-gathering mind range free. For what it’s worth, here is my meditation (in two parts, the next part tomorrow).

The Lord is my shepherd
He is in charge of me. I’m His responsibility, His property, available for His purposes. A shepherd raises sheep for wool, for mutton, for sacrifice. It’s all for the shepherd’s purpose, not the sheep’s.
I shall not be in want
The Shepherd takes care of my needs - even my wants.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
I have so much, am so well provided for that even green pasture no longer tempts me to eat. I take my fill and then lie down and relax, knowing that when I’m hungry again, I only need to jump up and keep eating. Such abundance!
He leads me beside quiet water.
Refreshing, easy-to-get-at water. I don’t have to worry about losing my footing on a steep stream-side, or fear being cast into swift-flowing water as the bank is undercut. No. This place of drinking is calm, still, safe.
He restores my soul.
Soul - that emotional part of me which gets hurt feelings, feels inadequate, gets lost in the masses, is easily wounded by a thoughtless word, or bruised by silence and being ignored. That needy, high maintenance part of me is restored and healed when I sense that I, though one of a flock of millions, have my shepherd’s attention. He knows my needs, leads me to pastures and water, takes the burrs from my wool, binds up my bleeding feet and takes care of each part of my sheepness.

Lord, I request sheep appetites, sharp for your pasturage. I find myself easily led away by the manufactured food of success, the attention of others, ease, pleasure. Like unnatural animal foods which lead to deadly BSE, this unhealthy mixture puffs me up, but plants, then nurtures in me the seeds of death. May my thirsts be slaked by the quiet waters to which You lead. May my soul find restoration in Your presence.

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