by Rachael Stelzer
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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 23:4).
Many of us have grown up with prints or tapestries depicting Jesus, the Good Shepherd, walking along a valley with rocky outcrops on either side and a lamb on his shoulders.
As a city kid, I know the lamb as a symbol of gentleness and innocence. I also rather imagine that to those who are more familiar with agriculture than I am, a lamb is a symbol of loud, hungry bleating with a propensity to fall down rocks, get stuck in bushes and generally cause headaches for the poor grunt who has to look after it.
Perhaps no other psalm is as well known as Psalm 23. A psalm of trust, peace and abundance. It is often read at funerals, as its quiet confidence is a beautiful picture in times of grief. It invokes deep memories for many people of important ceremonies and people in their Christian lives.
Please take a few minutes to sit with this beautiful and iconic psalm. Read it slowly to yourself. Breathe deeply as you concentrate on the pictures within it. See the active shepherd, protecting his lamb, showing it where the best grass is, saving it from damaging itself, and carrying it home, close to his heart. Thank Jesus for his love.
And carry out into your week this peaceful confidence: ‘Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
Good Shepherd, I am in your care. You do more for me than I deserve. My cup overflows. Let me dwell in your house forever. Amen.