Pastoral Care, Chapter 6: The Walk Through The Valley – Part 2

For example, we have all the air we need to breathe, which is so essential to life, regardless of how we have polluted it and made it not always good to breathe. We have enough food to feed every human being in the whole world. Our problem is not production. Our problem is selfishness, distribution, and division. While it may not be the most recent fashion, it may not be something we like, or even want to wear, the truth of the matter is there is enough fabric for clothing in the world today so that no human being need be ill-clad, much less naked.

The problem, then, is not that the Lord has not provided. The problem is that we have not divided.

Hear the words of Jesus. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air,” He said. “They neither sow or reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you? . . . Are you not of more value than birds or plants? Your heavenly Father knows you have needs.”

Life is the essential gift, and it is a gift of the Lord. When our lives are lived in a positive relationship with God, our other needs are met as well. David sees that God has also provided for the basics of life, God has also provided for beauty in our living. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.”

Have you ever given so much of yourself that you have felt emotionally and physically drained? Have you felt so weary and weighed down by giving yourself that you were not sure you could go on, or at times, even when you wanted to go on? In such times, did you ever lie down on the grass in your yard, or out in the green pasture, and look up at the sky and see the clouds going by? Did you realize you did not have to push them? Did you feel the movement and the vibration of the earth beneath? You did not have to force to happen. Did you hear the birds singing? Did you feel the breeze blowing and you were not pushing a thing? Have you ever walked beside still waters – not the turbulent, splashing waters – but still waters? Have you seen and felt the peace that was there that you could not create? You might like to have created it but you felt somehow that something was moving into you? At such times, we were not simply re-energized in body, emotion, and spirit. We are not simply recovering strength so we can go at it again. We experience something of wanting, or desiring to live. “He restores my soul.” Can it be anyone but the One who is Spirit Himself who can refresh and restore our spirits and encourage us to go on? Is there any other one to whom you would entrust the management of the universe or your individual and personal concerns as you would the One who created you both? “The Lord is my Shepherd … He restores my soul.”

There is another way in which the Lord restores our soul. As sheep, we often wander off the beaten path. We find ourselves at the edge of some precipice, ready to fall over, teetering so we do not dare take another step and lose our balance and plunge to our death. Or, we find ourselves in a briar patch so entangled that every move we make simply entangles us more. Or, we get caught in the crevice of some rock, and we know we cannot free ourselves. Who is it but the Spirit of the Good Shepherd who comes to us, and with His crook, brings us back in, leads us out, and brings us to the paths that are right for us?

“In the paths of righteousness” – these are not of some preconceived notion of piety or religiousity. These are the right paths for you. This is the right path for you, which God gives you so that you feel right within yourself, right with God, right with other people, and right with the world.

Notice, also, it says, “He leads us in the paths of righteousness.” He is not a cowboy who drives cattle, and pushes them, and forces them to go where they do not want to go. He leads us. He always goes before us even if the way is rough and rugged. If the way leads through a wilderness, He always goes and checks it out first, and then he comes back and invites us to follow.

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