1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Psalm 23, Message
The Lord wants to escort you to someplace wonderful, it’s where there is a rich rest and a sweet intimacy– in spite of fierce conflict. Everything you need is revealed in Psalm 23, and it’s beautiful.
It is more than good poetry. It’s a way of life.
There is a preciousness just beyond our ‘status quo.’ It is abundant life for eternity. When you have apprehended it, you will understand what I am talking about, and wonder why you’ve missed it for so long. Eternal life has already begun even though many of us don’t walk as if it did. We have eternal life, right here—right now!
There is a place which we can enter where Jesus is all there is.
His dear presence pervades everything, and there is no doubt about His lordship. He rules completely, and He is “all-in-all.” A believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit knows this.
There’s evidence when you have appropriated this deeper life. There will be a surrender of all you have, and you will fully understand what it truly means to be His follower and part of Jesus’flock. There will be a complete renunciation of all rights to yourself. With an insurmountable joy, you will give it all up just to walk with Him.
Live on earth as if you’ve already died, and are now living in heaven with Him.
There must be a definite place to turn your rights over to Him. Perhaps His love has already pressed you into this. Often there will be disillusionment and cynicism about this planet and its ugly ways. You want to escape all its dullness and jadedness. You will step into ‘life-effervescent.’ He intends to walk you through many issues, but if He is close I will suggest you trust Him fully.
If you struggle with a mental illness: clinical depression, bipolar, anxiety issues, or schizophrenia, I want to reassure you, that you are not a “lesser” Christian. And my comments include you. You are not on the ‘scrap heap’ of the Spirit. In so many ways, you can enter in while ordinary people will struggle. And you do need to step into this and discover a life worth living.
A “Psalm 23 life” is yours for the asking. Take it up, humbly and true. It’s your birthright to be with your Shepherd forever.
“And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David waswearing a linen ephod.”
2 Samuel 6:13-15
When I start to dance,you had better head for higher ground!
I am without question the world’s worst and the clumsiest of all. And since my brain surgery, it has gotten even worse. I need to use a cane now. (And if you look up “klutz” in the dictionary you’ll see my picture, lol.) 😃
Even so, I do love the idea of dancing, but I’m like Bozo, the circus clown, only wearing roller skates. I lurch from side-to-side and I’m always on the verge of falling on someone’s lap. Which is a real hoot!
But there is just one dance that I am waiting for.
It is the dance I will have with my Savior. There will be a day, in a place and time where He will call me home and I will learn to dance. I know it’ll be incredible, and it’s a day that I anticipate and honestly, I hope comes soon.
To dance is to liberate your heart.
You must cancel out all self-consciousness. If you are self-aware, you will never enter into the joy and wonder of the dance. You will be a perpetual wallflower, living only on the edges. And, you will be very sad.
It seems you must dance in your heart before you can ever dance with your feet.
I desperately would like to dance. And I see Him clearly on that day when I have no cane and am as graceful as I hope to be. I honestly won’t be watching you, (I’m sorry), but I will see only Jesus. I believe that my heart will beat exclusively for Him.
Some of you have been crippled—smashed up in the grinding gears of life.
But I know that your life can be astonishingly full of grace also– you have endured so much, and yet Jesus intends to occupy your thoughts and vision. As His disciple, you’ll discover your special dance. And when you finally see Him, your heart will finally be free to spin and twirl.
You will find Him to be the Lord of the Dance.
“Young women and young men, together with the elderly, will celebrate and dance because I will comfort them and turn their sorrow into happiness.”
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
Just a short word of encouragement to all my suffering brothers and sisters.
I believe God loves you (it’s not a cliche) and has a tremendous plan for you. Scripture tells us that we will reign with Him (and the last time I looked, there is no disqualification for being mentally or physically ill).
Having suffered through your whole life will be just an enhancement, a bonus when you finally are held by Jesus, in His arms.
Those of us who struggle with depression, mania, and paranoia know a lot about cracks and brokenness. Mixed states, anxiety, and social withdrawal all have taken their toll. Some of us hear voices. Addictions and suicide attempts have made up our past life (and even sometimes try to intrude on the present.)
Some of us have physical disabilities. We come to worship from our wheelchairs and walkers. Some of us are deaf, and others are blind. But we come still. Our hope is in the coming King who promises us a new and fully redeemed Kingdom. There will be no more pain.
I have a dear friend with advancing Alzheimer’s who understands little of what is happening to her, but she still worships God with the rest of the congregation. Before dementia, she was a spiritual marvel. Without a doubt one of the astonishing women I had ever met.
Now however, when she raises her hands, I believe the angels step back in a deep awe.
I just realized this–the angels understand worship, they really do. Praise seems to be their specialty. Each angel that surrounds the throne has a PhD in “worshipology.”
But you know what? They really don’t understand our worship out of our pain, weakness, and brokenness.
Let us worship God with our cracks and brokenness. In John 12:1-7, a woman breaks open a jar of nard on Jesus’ feet, while the other disciples hang back and complain.
But always remember this dear one–it is only by being poured out that one can release the perfume.
To follow Him can be really hard. There doesn’t seem to be any contingency plan for any who are looking to escape such a drastic call. Jesus either is, or He isn’t our Lord. “Do you also want to leave?” This is a question that will be asked to every disciple–sometimes once, and sometimes repeatedly.
There are these crystalline moments when I must make a decision. Will I take up my cross and go with Him? There doesn’t seem to be any room in Jesus’ band for ‘almost’ disciples. That scares me sometimes.
Being obedient is far from easy. Today’s cross is waiting for me. I’m afraid at times that I won’t be able to take the next step as a true follower. Am I just fooling myself?
All of heaven seems to stand on tiptoe to see what I’m going to do next.
Who am I really?
“After this, many of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance:
“Do you also want to leave?”
“Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:66-69, The Message
Image from Wikipedia, verses are from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.