Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of reflection, especially with having a newborn and surprisingly having a pretty good chunk of time to reflect while breastfeeding. Becoming a parent is a very awesome, yet terrifying experience, and as I’ve spent time observing my daughter as she grows, I find that God is teaching me a lot about Himself through that experience. I’m amazed at how much we can learn if we take the time to observe and reflect on seemingly simplistic things.
Since my daughter’s birth, four months ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Psalms and reflecting on the words of the writers…mostly David. The more I journal, the more I’m starting to see the Psalms as a prayer journal left behind for all of mankind to read and explore the idea of having an intimate relationship with God. David wrote a majority of the Psalms and he was called by God “a man after God’s own heart”. Despite the not so wonderful things that David was known for doing in his life, he was known to have an intimate relationship with God that profoundly impacted his life and the lives of an entire nation. David knew how to be alone with God and how to cry out for help when he needed it. He also had a healthy appreciation for God’s work in nature and it touched his life.
I find myself grateful for David’s utter honesty with God and his desire to please God and still let him know when he was struggling. And, knowing that God dubbed him “a man after God’s own heart”, tells me that it’s necessary and it’s God’s desire that our relationship with Him be open, honest and fully transparent. That, to me, is the backbone of any good, intimate relationship. Reflecting on David’s words to God about how he was feeling in dark times and in good times, has taught me many things and has increased my hope in God’s desire for us to know Him as He fully knows us. David’s realization of who God is in His life can be seen very clearly in Psalm 23, and it’s the passage I reflected on for several weeks. What has come out of that reflection, has enhanced my view of God and shown me the importance of going through ups and downs in life and how God operates to bring about His deepest desire for us to have an intimate relationship with Him.
The following study captures what God taught me as I reflected on this very important passage of scripture. I hope that as you read these words, both mine and what God said to me, it will encourage you to reflect on scripture and to be open to what God wants to teach you as you walk with Him.
Reflections from vs. 3
If God renews my strength, it means He gives me the amount of strength I need at just the right moment. He guides me to keep me going in the right direction. I can always depend on Him to lead me to the right places. If things don’t seem to work out the way I plan or expect them to, I can trust that God is working behind the scenes to bring about the right outcome at just the right time. So, rejection is not rejection and missed connections are not avenues of failure, but God orchestrating, guiding and protecting me because He knows what I need and when I need it. He also knows when being around others is not good for me, so He intervenes and protects me when I need it most; even when I am not aware of my need for it. As He does this, He receives glory because I know the credit rightly belongs to Him.
Reflections from vs. 4
The dark valley of death can rear its ugly head at any time, but the important thing to grasp is that God is still right there beside you. The sooner you recognize that and ask Him for help, the sooner peace will come. It is safe to say that the dark valley symbolizes a low point in one’s life, whether it is experienced for a day, a month, a year or more. That low point brings with it fantasies about death, both figurative and literal. We all go through low points with periods of darkness, because of the unknown or because of a lack of satisfaction in our present circumstances. However, if we believe that God is with us and He’s working on us, we know that these periods of darkness won’t last forever because they are meant to bring about growth. As we grow, we change our perspective, so that it matches up with what God wants for us. The more we grow, the more we are prepared for our destiny and the more satisfaction we will experience. Even when we face the unknown, it is okay because if God is with us and we believe He desires good things for us, then we can hold onto that truth and allow that to encourage us.
Reflections from vs. 5
Protection and comfort are two essentials for everyday life as a believer. God knows us better than anyone because He created us and He lives inside us. He knows what’s going on inside us, even before we do and He uses His own tools to protect us from harm; whether it be from others or ourselves, and He comforts us in the way that only He can. As we depend on Him for protection and comfort, we see His faithfulness to come through for us and to guide us. Thanks be to God for being what I need at the very moments in my life when I need it most.
Reflections from vs. 6
It is God who does the work of preparation and planning and it is our job to work with Him and get on board with what He’s doing in our lives. His intentions are good. His plans are perfect. We just have to trust Him. When we do, all that we need follows us and catches up to us at just the right moment.
When I think about it, in those times and even now, feasts are used during times of celebration and even honor. When David says “you prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”, that is significant because often David’s enemies would mock him and his God because they knew he served God and in their eyes if this God was real and powerful, He would have already come through and delivered David from them. However, often times the fact that we are required to wait is all a part of God’s plan for drawing the right amount of attention to the situation, so that when He does come through, we can be sure that our enemies and all who doubted can see God in His glory and splendor, coming through for us.
Since David learned to hang in there while He was waiting for God’s deliverance, God chose to honor him with a “feast” and He honored him in front of the very people who were trying to destroy him. God’s tactics may at first seem hard and callous on the surface and at times it may feel like God has abandoned those who serve Him, but in reality He’s just creating the perfect opportunity for others to see who He really is. He is love, He is faithful, He protects and always come through for His people and He restores those who serve Him and gives them more than they ever could have imagined, far beyond the grief that they went through in getting to that moment. The joy, honor and peace that they experience by the hand of God far outweighs the sadness and pain they went through prior to God’s deliverance. And, as they learn to depend on God and remain faithful in the midst of such trying times, God gives them the strength and grace to endure. God brings us in, welcoming us as His guest of honor, after we’ve come through the trial and we receive blessings beyond anything we could have imagined…more than our lives can ever contain.
Now, because God takes care of me and I remain faithful to believe that He will always do that, “goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life” and no longer am I just a guest in God’s house, but I will live there forever. Once I’ve reached this place with God, where I am this dependent on Him, I don’t have to seek goodness and mercy anymore…it comes after me. It follows me everywhere and I go through my life always basking in the goodness and mercy of God. Having this kind of relationship with God is pleasing to Him. It is what God desires from us. It is what He wanted from the very beginning and those who have that relationship with Him are now invited to live in God’s house. They belong there as a permanent resident, living in the house of the King of the Universe, having full access to Him and enjoying the fulfillment that comes with freedom to be who they are in God and to finally find their heart’s home.
I’m so glad you’re getting to understand more and more about my intentions for people in this life. I’m glad you took the time to keep reflecting on these verses in Psalm 23 and to ask me to show you more. I am always faithful to do that as you humble yourself and depend on me to guide you through your life. It is my hope that you will continue to pursue me in this way and let me teach you many things.
Look at all you’ve learned about my desire for all people, just by taking the time to reflect on the words that I encouraged David to write. He did have a very special relationship with me, despite the mistakes he made, because at the core of his heart, he desired to know me. I put that longing in his heart, just as it exists in all people, and he chose to pay attention to that longing and not ignore it. As David spent a lot of time in solitude, while shepherding, he became aware of that longing and didn’t run from it or try to drown it out with ambient noise. His time in nature fostered an environment where he was free to explore the true longing of his heart and as he did that, he became a man that I have said was after my heart.
I desire this for all people and I give everyone the chance to discover it within themselves. However, in this world, and in this time, most people choose noise instead of the quiet that is required to discover the longing that exists in the heart of every human being. You’ve been drawn to and able to discover the longing in your own heart through your connection with nature.
As you’ve desire to get away and enjoy the peace and quiet that nature provides, you’ve discovered a safety there that has made it possible for you to face the truth and embrace it. As you’ve done this, I’ve brought you back from the abyss and you’ve been learning what it means to depend on me for every part of your existence and you’ve allowed me to develop good character in you, just as I did with David. I want that for all who are willing to come, so share my words and let what I’ve taught you be the helping hand that my people need to see the truth and come to me. I want you to know that in doing this, you receive blessings far beyond what you will have room to contain and it is my great pleasure to give that to you and to continue to work with you. You will experience many great things in me, among which are freedom and fulfillment.
Your Father God
Psalm 23 (New Living Translation)
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Reflections from vs. 1
God is the one who takes care of me. He protects me and handles everything that concerns me. Like a child, I am completely dependent on Him to give me what I need, so that I can develop spiritually. My responsibility is to depend on Him, love Him and trust Him; and as I do that I cannot help but develop good character and grow strong - completely secure in Him.
Reflections from vs. 2
God knows the importance of nature and its restorative powers. There is healing that can be experienced when you allow yourself to soak in nature’s essence. God knows that…He designed it to function that way in order to give us what we need. That provision can be subtle, but it is always perfect.
Over the years you have discovered the hidden treasure of nature, and as you continue to enjoy its gifts, you will grow in inspiration and in your ability to see the unseen. Allow me to teach you more as you rest in nature and know that I am always with you and I will continue to guide you.