1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Today’s reading is one of the best known in the Bible, it is often used as a Psalm of comfort, of support, and of strength and healing. This Psalm praises God whose love is a never-ending presence in our lives, God who walks with us through the darkest days of our lives, and who shares with us the great joy of living, protecting us from our enemies and welcoming us as well-loved children.
The words of this Psalm can be moving and stirring; however, it has become so familiar, and has been used so often that when we hear it we do not always really pay attention to the words, and don’t often think about its meaning. Therefore, I would like to look closer at the Psalm, and how it can relate to our lives as people and as single parents:
The Psalm begins with the simple statement that “The Lord is my shepherd…” meaning the one who watches over and actually herds the sheep, keeping them safe from all dangers (i.e. wolves and poachers), and providing for all of their needs…hence “…I shall not want”; It is God who is always watching over us and surrounding us with love and grace, to keep us safe in the midst of our struggles in life as single parents, and it is also God who can provide us with rest in the midst of our hectic lives…allowing us to lie down in the green pastures, as we connect to Him in prayer…and leading us besides the still waters that restore our souls through worship and praise.
It is God who guides us though life, and helps us find a direction, through the scriptures and through sharing our faith with each other…and it is this direction that can help us to guide our children through life.
And it is God who walks with us when the going gets tough…when our journey takes us to the darker places in life, and we can find ourselves filled with fear and anxiety, it is the love of God that can light up the darkness and give us hope, and give us faith in the face of our fears. Surrounded by this love, we know that no matter what challenges or struggles we face on our own or while raising our children, we will not face them alone.
It is God who lifts us up, and who prepares a table for us, in the midst of our sometimes hectic lives, nourishing us with us strength, both directly through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and through the people around us, our friends and family and those who we share our faith with. Immersed in the Grace of God we are a part of the great celebration of life and love, and at the table we are safe from those who would trouble us and our children, at God’s table we are not merely guests, but part of the family, as we are all the well-loved children of God!
This Psalm reminds us of God’s eternal promise: that God, who is our good shepherd, will never leave us, will always love us, always forgive us, and will guide us through all the days of our lives!
In this way God treats us like we would want to treat our own children: as it is our desire to always there for them, loving them, caring for them and guiding them throughout their lives, whether they want us to or not! Just as there is no way for our children to be separated from our love, we cannot be separated from the love of God!
This is our Good News for today, as we start our week: That no matter where life takes us, not matter how dark some days may seem, or how alone we may feel as we face the challenges of being single parents…we are always surrounded by the light of God’s love and Grace…and that through the gift of Christ the promise of God to always walk with us and our children has been fulfilled! For it is the risen Christ who walks with us through life, reaching out to support and guide us through the scriptures, the Holy Spirit and through those who we share our faith and our lives with on a daily basis.
As followers of Christ we are called to share God’s grace with others…not only our children, but our family, friends, strangers…and even ourselves…allowing ourselves to find peace, even in the most difficult of times or hectic of days, by trusting in God enough to turn our will and our lives, and our children, over to God’s care.
Let us Pray:
Lord, thank you for your presence in our world and in our lives. Thank you for freely giving us comfort, support, hope and most of all…love! Please help us to share this grace with others by living our faith out loud on a daily basis. Please help us to take comfort in your love, and to find rest in sharing our faith, rest which can refresh us and empower us to face the many challenges of single (or any other type of) parenting.