Meditating on Psalm 23



WRITTEN BY MELISSA H. STRAUTMAN, LMT

Meditating on Psalm 23

Psalm 23:1-6
‘ 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 forever.’

This beautiful passage that David wrote to praise God for all of His protection and comfort has recently captured my attention.  My mind has become fascinated by different lines each night as I fall asleep.  I’m either praising Him for success on one line or repenting of my sin on another.  The more I meditate on these lines, the more truth unfolds.

Powerlessness & Boasting

How powerless is the sheep without a shepherd?  He would surely die and his kind become extinct.  I’m sure the sheep just nibbles away at his grass; unaware of all the peril he is being saved from.  The shepherd has already considered the next delicious field of grass that he will lead his herd to.  He knows the habits and tactics of all the predators.  He is completely prepared.  The sheep doesn’t have to even have a concern and if he did, he isn’t even given words to communicate with.  He doesn’t need them.  That’s how cared-for the sheep is.  So are we.

I am so thankful for my forty-eight years.  I’ve had just enough time to have had a few life experiences.  I can look back and see how God, despite all of my tremendous efforts, provided great care.  It was obvious that my success in any such area was beyond what I had helped deliver.  I’d have been better off to have just let God handle it.  I’m a tough nut to crack when it comes to learning lessons.  Simon-Peter will surely slap me on the back with a, “Welcome Sis” when I walk into heaven.

So I ask God to help me appreciate my powerlessness and boast of His incredible omnipresent care.  This is how “I shall not want.”  All of my real needs are already being taken care of.  I thank God for his provision of intelligence, strength and fortitude but I ask that He take it all away if I choose to lean on myself more than Him.

Sin That Serves

Being led down a “path of righteousness.”  What does that mean?  Knowing I’m both saint and sinner, there is no righteousness I have of my own in this life. Christ’s righteousness is counted to me despite all of my heinous sins against my Holy Maker.  How horribly gut wrenching a moment that will be for us all on judgement day.  Our just sentence will be hell.  Then a Hero will step from the crowd and say, “I know her.  I’ve paid her fine and she is free to live with Me and My Father forever in a perfect sinless kingdom.”  I will surely fall at His feet in sheer gratitude; never wanting to be anywhere else but in His presence.

My sin constantly drives me to my knees, crushed by my thoughtless, disrespect for my Father.  His kindness in choosing me, correcting me and keeping me is overwhelming.  Why does He do it for me?  It’s here that the mystery happens.  I begin to have the ability to avoid and turn from those same sins.  I find I am no longer burdened with the same vices I once was.  I begin to walk a path more righteous for His “name’s sake”.  Then I know that it is He that “restores my soul”.  He allows my sin to serve His purposes and I get to enjoy more freedom from sin in this life. Hallelujah!

The Shepherd That Protects

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”[1] 

We have all been unjustly served up wrath from an enemy.  I have found that the more I fight the injustice with my own mind and strength, the worse I make it because God didn’t assign that task for me.  I am so thankful that I now fully understand that I am powerless over the evil in this world and must only use the means in which God provides me to address injustice.[2]

Ephesians 6:12-13
‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.’

I am also thankful that I now understand that some injustices are exactly the justice God intends for us.[3]  There is such comfort in knowing that not only can He fix the bad afterwards (restoration[4]) but that He can use the bad for our good[5] during the trouble.  He can do this because He was/is sovereign over all from the beginning of time.

The Shadow of Death

It’s the “shadow of death” that has my attention this week as I prepare for major spinal surgery and a two month recovery.  I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to have rock-star surgeons willing and able to fix my problem; after years of experts saying it couldn’t be done.  I am so blessed to have insurance to pay for it.  I’m so blessed to have a husband to care for me.  I am so blessed to know that no matter what happens in that shadow, God will be there working out every little detail to either see my body restored for His glory or take me back to my real home with Him.

Easter Sunday morning (April 1) my world came crashing down as I was washing dishes at church.  I lost all feeling in my arms and had excruciating pains in my neck.  This was actually a blessing from the Lord.  My doctor immediately ordered every test known to man and the answer was: operate or risk being paralyzed.  I have no idea what Friday’s surgery holds for me.  Only God knows what’s next.

So with that said.  I will be on blog-hiatus until I have use of my hands again.  Typing sort of requires that.  Please pray that the Lord’s will be done through this event and that I am the witness God needs me to be, especially as I come out of anesthesia.  According to my family, I don’t do that very nicely.  LOL.

God Bless all of you and I can’t wait to get back to this blog.

Your sister in Christ,
Melissa Strautman


   


[1] Psalm 23:5

[2] Relationship Primer for the Christian, Part 1 & Part 2

[3] “The Justice of Injustice” – Pastor Steve, Sunday, August 5th

[4] https://gccbg.com/featured/blog-buying-back-lost-opportunities

[5] Romans 8:28