Every time I hear Psalm 23 I linger. There are so many strong implications in this sweet Psalm; so many balms for the hurting soul. There is the image of the Provider, preparing the table for us. We see the Protector, carrying the rod and the staff, acting as our Guard and Defender. We witness the One who has defeated Death walking us through its shadow. The part that hit me today is about the still waters. You remember it. It sounds like this, “He leads me beside still waters.”
The gist is sheep are afraid of moving water. They will not drink, no matter how thirsty, from a flowing stream. Knowing this, the Shepherd gets to the water first. He builds a dam, wading through the water and the weeds to create a place for his sheep to approach without fear. The stream may flow slowly through the pasture and still the sheep will not drink unless it is still. It may be rushing through the valley and the Shepherd has the burden of ‘stopping’ it long enough for those under his care to find refreshment. The Good Shepherd stops the water long enough for his sheep to drink their full.
The enemy, on the other hand, causes peaceful waters to appear to rush and rushing waters to appear deadly. He magnifies every circumstance and captures every chance he has to propagate fear. It is only natural for him to do this. Not only is this approach the opposite of our good and faithful King, it is the approach that gives him the control. What can we do about this?
The Bible says Satan is a roaring lion prowling around seeking whom he would devour. But listen, Satan is a toothless lion. He is the author of fear and despair, but for those whose hearts belong to the Good Shepherd, Satan has zero ability to destroy us. The best he can do is inflict fear on those who will listen to him. His roar is loud but his bite is pitiful. When he breaks the dam that God has built around you, do not fear! Our Builder is more than capable of keeping us safe in the roaring waters. Chaos is no match for Him! Where does this come down for us in real life today?
The world is all about pushing the medium of fear and impending doom. They understand this gives them an advantage if they can appear to have an edge on predicting the source of the fear; if they can play on your apprehensions they have control over you. We see this in the media. Coronavirus is the latest in a long line of fear tactics. Is the disease deadly and dangerous? Yes. Is it the end of the world as we know it? No. Do we all need to run and hide in its wake? No. Truthful media is needed and welcomed. The “Oh my gosh, what are we going to do???” reports are not helpful at all. H1N1 and Ebola were bad, but they were contained and vaccinations were invented. But instead of taking stock, the media immediately begins looking for the next looming crisis that will bring us all down. Here’s the real news: the One who stills the waters is the One who counts the earth and everything in it as His personal possession. We can trust our Shepherd.
Viruses aren’t the only way the enemy propagates fear. He can use relationships, finances, felt needs and lack, even feelings! We are often offered fear as a means of processing our surroundings. For the person who does not know Jesus and the still waters He creates, fear is reality. But the one who drinks from the Shepherd-designed pools has a different reality. Peace frames our conversations and bookends our apprehensions. Even when we are tempted to drink in fear we are reminded of the presence of the Peace Giver. We need not fear Him and we need not fear the circumstances that He is over. That encompasses everything.
Dear sheep, learn to heed the voice of the Good Shepherd. His love for you is relentless and strong. He will not feed you to the wolves or allow you to be washed away in the rushing waters. Though you may feel surrounded and overwhelmed, do not believe for a minute that your fears will become your reality.
According to Psalm 23 the result of deep draughts of still water is a restored soul. Heed the voice of the Shepherd leading you to His pre-prepared fountains of living water. I know it goes against your best judgment to allow Jesus’ opinion to outweigh that of the news anchors, but you must. Trust Him when everything seems to be spinning out of control. HE is the source of your still water.