“Direction and Directions” (Psalm 23:1-3)

Last summer our three-piece band, Tasmanian Grace, had the honor of playing music for Boy Scouts and their families at the Kansas Speedway. I drove to the area late that afternoon. I’ve been to the Legends often, so I know how to get there, and the Speedway is impossible to miss. But there was a very specific way for band members to enter the Speedway. Even though I had directions, I couldn’t figure it out. Confession time – when it comes to logistics and directions, I wake up in a brand new world about every 13-15 seconds. I get turned around easily. One time I got lost trying to exit the North Kansas City Hospital enclosed parking garage. On another occasion I got lost driving around in the downtown Chicago highway loop.

After trying for approximately 30 minutes to enter the Kansas Speedway, I was thoroughly disoriented within plain sight of my objective. I called the bass player, Joe, because I knew Joe and Jim (the drummer) had already arrived. Joe handed the phone to Bill. Bill said, “Drive to the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot and wait for me. I will lead you in.” I protested; I did not want to divert Bill from his other responsibilities. Bill chuckled and said, “Don’t worry about it at all. I counted on this happening.”

So I found the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot and waited. Bill arrived soon after, issued me a parking pass, and led me in. He could have spent the rest of the evening explaining it to me over the phone; I never would have made it.

Friday night, Bill reinforced to me some important truths about who God is as our Shepherd and what God does as our Shepherd.

Psalm 23 begins with these familiar words. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” The shepherd stays ahead of the action, anticipating what the sheep need before they are aware that they need it. In our lives, God stays ahead of the action, counting on us needing guidance. The Hebrew word translated “want” is rooted in the word “lack,” which is why so many translations say, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need” or “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” It reminds me of Peter’s aggressive declaration that Christ’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our relational knowledge of Christ Who has called us by His own glory and goodness (2nd Peter 1:3).

Psalm 23 continues in verse 2-3 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The shepherd is an expert at calming and leading skittishly disoriented sheep. Giving a sheep directions would be an exercise in futility. The shepherd must become the direction, like Bill did for me. I relaxed when I saw Bill’s pickup truck pulling into the parking lot at Nebraska Furniture Mart. I knew I had what it took to follow him in.

God’s presence is uniquely reassuring.

I cannot think about Psalm 23 without pairing it with John 10, where Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd Who gives His life for the sheep. In the person of Jesus, God takes us by the heart and leads us. Jesus does not give us directions; He becomes the direction through relationship.

Are you directionless? Are you turned around? Are you disoriented? We don’t have what it takes to lead ourselves, but we do have what it takes to follow Jesus. We start where we are by saying, “Help!” We continue by cooperating with the help, and the help turns out to be a relationship with God Who loves us like crazy and leads us from a position of ultimate strength and wisdom.  

I hope Psalm 23 and John 10 benefit you in seeking the Good Shepherd, the One Who says it is okay, the One Who counted on us needing Him. May you and I allow Jesus the Good Shepherd to come and get us, to be our direction in life.

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

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