With all the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m going to pause for a couple of days from reading through 1 John. Depending on how things are going in the coming weeks, I will likely switch back and forth from our usual reading through a book of the Bible to daily words of encouragement from our Heavenly Father.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
This is such a familiar psalm, it is easy to skim over it and not really take in the details. What I want you to do right now is read the psalm again slowly and look for a word or phrase that jumps out at you. This is how God speaks to you. What is God telling you today? Before you read on, stop for a moment and think about those words that God brought to your mind.
In these days of panic, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all I need” jumps out at me. When I look at the empty shelves in the grocery store, and wonder if I will be able to get what I need, God reassures me that he supplies what I need. I actually have a lot of faith in Canadians to calm down and stop stockpiling supplies. But I need more than canned goods and paper supplies. I am more on the introverted side of personalities, so I have always thought being by myself is a good thing. However, when we are told to stay at home and not go out unless it’s necessary, I’ve discovered a sense of unquiet in this ‘aloneness’. I know the extroverts need other people, and I suspect they find social isolation really difficult.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me”. Knowing that God is near me is so comforting! I can talk to him any time of the day or night. He’s with me, so he is very aware of my circumstances. He knows how I am feeling. We are sharing this moment in time together. He’s not even across the room; he is “close beside me”. Stop and think about that. Pause and think. God is “close beside you”.
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.” Pursue! Now there’s an amazing word. God pursues me. I don’t have to go looking for him. He is looking for me. And in what way does he pursue me? With “goodness and unfailing love”. Think for a moment about a loving relationship you have experienced. It may be with a parent, sibling, a good friend, a child, a husband or wife … When you were having a tough time, was that person there for you? Every time? I had an amazing marriage for almost 50 years, and my husband definitely took care of me in so many ways. But sometimes he was too busy with work to be there when I needed him. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be with me, he just had other demands on his time. Sometimes he was just too tired and wanted to be alone. Sometimes he didn’t understand why I was upset, and couldn’t fully relate to how I felt.
BUT, God isn’t like that!!!! God pursues me with “goodness and unfailing love”. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” God is right there all the time! You may be going crazy with little ones racing around your house, and you
have nowhere to take them to keep them happy. You may be living alone and feeling very isolated. You may be feeling edgy and nervous about what will happen over the next month of two. Stop and reread Psalm 23. Look for those words that your Heavenly Father is speaking to you. Take a deep breath and know he is close beside you.