One morning last month, I tried something I’ve never done before. I honestly didn’t think it would result in anything unusual. The surprise is, it brought fresh revelation I so needed.
I found the suggestion in a book I am using for a devotional this year, “Daily in His Presence,” by Andrew Murray. “As you read the psalms,” it prompts, “underline the words Lord or God wherever they occur, also the pronouns referring to God: You, He, I, His.” The directions continued, but I chose Psalm 23 because I am doing some study and focus on it right now.
I tried taking a picture of my highlighted Bible, but it didn’t turn out well. It was too marked up. 🙂 I confess, I am one who writes in my Bible. I love looking back at the insights He gives me and the cross references He directs me to that are not listed.
So, here is a cleaner version:
Looking at this, you may wonder what I am excited about. Well, after 73 years of hearing this text and reading it over and memorizing it, I saw it with new eyes that morning.
Several books I’d been reading in the month I was off FaceBook and several YouTube videos I’ve watched, clearly state that it is the work of Holy Spirit to complete in us what God had in mind when He created us. Our work is to rest in His ability to do the work and to cooperate with Him when He prompts us to do something, regardless of how logical or out of our comfort zone it may appear.
As one text noted, God the Father is the Husbandman (John 15:1: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.) The success of our graft to the Vine depends on His care. He looks over the Vine and branch and supplies what is needed, when it is needed, to bring forth true union and a harvest of fruit.
Okay, that’s all about the Vine and the branches. But when I re-read my marked-up 23rd Psalm what I saw was my Shepherd, with new clarity. Just as the Husbandman cares for the Vine, my Shepherd looks after the sheep.
He sees when I need nourishment and makes me lie down and chew it thoroughly before going further. He sees when I need a drink and searches out water I will drink and makes sure I get a drink. (FYI sheep will not drink from moving water.)
He watches me so closely that He detects when I’m feeling out of sorts. When pride or fear are at work and I am no longer following Him with the same love and trust, He takes note. With skilled knowledge, He restores my soul to a place of peace and trust, so I can follow Him with joy. On and on the Psalm goes.
What impacted my heart is He is ever present with me. Yes, I know He said He would never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), but sometimes I don’t feel His nearness. This re-read showed me how near He is. And yes, I know He is in me and I am in Him (Galatians 2:20), but as far as feelings go, there are days or weeks or even months when this reality is vague at best. We can’t live our life on feelings, that’s for sure. But when the feelings aren’t apparent, it is helpful to have scripture visuals like this one to remind us.
When I gave birth to our daughter, Sarah, I created a focal point for my labor. It was a simple hand sewn plaque that read, “God Keeps Every Promise.” I didn’t have any ultrasounds done during my pregnancy, but God told me before getting pregnant that I would have a healthy baby girl. At 35 years of age there were those who cautioned me about possible defects, etc. This focal point gave me courage to believe God’s faithfulness.
Jesus, the Living Word is to be our daily focal point. Regardless of our circumstances when we look at Him, spend time with Him and lean in to hear His voice, we gain the assurance that our Shepherd is on task. Holy Spirit is right there providing all that is needed to refashion us in His image and bring forth good fruit in our lives.
When life gets out of sorts and I need a reminder, I will remember this visual and renew my focus on the One who lives to see me through. How about you?