The Starting Point
I recently had the opportunity to sit still for two hours on the shores of Lake Rosseau, right on the border of the Muskoka Woods property. It was the fourth day of our seco
residential (a weeklong intensive learning experience) in the Arrow Leadership Program
and this day we were focusing on soul care, an area often neglected by Christian leaders.
Our task for these two hours was very simple. Find a quiet spot, then pray and
meditate/reflect on the passage our leaders gave us – Psalm 23. Many of us were using a more contemplative form of scripture reading with the hope that the Holy Spirit would
guide our minds and hearts.
I thought I knew what God was going to tell me, before I even opened my Bible. My mind raced as I tried to “figure out” what I needed to learn. However, I eventually remembered that I was there to pray, to listen, and hopefully to meet with God.
I began to read Psalm 23. I read it, then read it again and again. My racing thoughts began to subside, and I eventually came to see the passage as a journey; a journey that mirrored my own walk with God and the questions He was asking me.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1)
Psalm 23 begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd”. This is the author’s declaration of the
character of God. In the book of John, Jesus calls himself “The Good Shepherd” (John 10:10.)
Jesus is good, faithful, true, and beautiful. In Him there is no darkness. He is the one who would leave the 99 just to save one sheep (Matt 18:12-14). Our culture teaches that the only one you can fully trust and rely on is yourself. The truth is that Jesus is The Good Shepherd in whom we can fully place our trust. When we place our trust in Him, we lack nothing as Christ makes us complete (Col. 2:10).
He makes me lie down in green pastures, (Psalm 23:2)
When we choose to trust Christ, the first thing He makes us do is lie down. The funny thing about lying down is that when you are on your back you can’t carry anything. Picture a backpack. It simply doesn’t work to lie down with a backpack on. It is uncomfortable!
The starting point for our journey with Christ is resting in Him. When was the last time you allowed yourself to let go of the burdens and responsibilities that you carry and simply “lie down” in Christ?
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:2-3)
He is the one who leads us, and as we follow Him we will be led by quiet waters, where our soul is refreshed. God’s desire for us is refreshment. When I hear these words I think of being hydrated. When I am dehydrated I often get cranky and irritable. I usually get a headache, get sharp with my words, and have trouble thinking straight. However, when I am hydrated I can think clearly, stay focused, and I yawn less. I feel more alive!
The refreshment Jesus brings has a similar effect to being hydrated but on a much deeper level. Jesus’ refreshment brings peace that can weather any drought, joy that can shine through any discouragement, and rest that renews minds, hearts and bodies. His refreshment reminds me that my identity is not rooted what I do but rather in Christ who loves me and has already acted on my behalf. The key to this type of refreshment is time with Jesus!
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:3-4)
He also guides me on the right paths (NIV). How often have you wondered, “Is this God’s path for me?” Often when I am discouraged I ask that question. But the truth of Psalm 23 reminds us that when we trust in Jesus as our Shepherd, when we rest in him, and allow Him to refresh us, He will lead us down the right path. You don’t have to be “smart enough” to figure out this right path. You just have to walk faithfully and obediently. The path will lead into valleys, but Christ will be there beside us, sheltering and protecting us, and seeing us through to the next plain or mountain.
While there is much more to Psalm 23, I knew on that day on the shores of Lake Rosseau that God was asking me “Are you willing to trust me as your shepherd? Are you willing to lay down your responsibilities and worries and rest in me? Will you come to me regularly to be refreshed? Even though you can’t see what is around the approaching bend, will you trust that I have you on the right path?”
The Arrow Leadership Program “develops Christian leaders to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, and to lead more to Jesus” (arowleadership.org). The more I grow as a leader, the more I discover that the starting point for Christian leadership truly is being led more by Jesus.
Will you choose to be led more by Jesus today?