Heathdale flower 28th November 2019

God Says, I’m Still Here!

Even though we might move away from God, He's still here.

Heathdale flower

Recently I stumbled across a show on television that told the story of the singer/songwriter Paul Kelly. He is known for writing songs that tell a story of particular events or people and, as such, has become a much-loved performer. The show went to extraordinary lengths to give some insights into his past and the events that profoundly influenced his songwriting.

Kelly grew up in Adelaide, was one of six children and was raised by very devout Catholic parents. He attended mass weekly, served as an altar boy and was deeply immersed in this faith tradition. When he learned one Sunday morning that his father had passed away during the night the family still went off to mass as they did every Sunday.

Kelly spoke about a point later in his life where he ‘just didn’t believe anymore’! He lost his faith. I started to wonder what it was that made him turn away from God. Although it probably wasn’t one thing but a culmination of many things, I still found it sad to hear him talk about just not wanting to believe anymore.

Some years later, in the midst of a darker period in his life, he took Psalm 23 and rewrote it as a psalm to himself and the words that he used still carry the very sentiment of the psalm we have come to know in the Bible! As I watched this segment, I realised that, even though Paul Kelly had moved away from God, God had still not let him go. As I listened to the words he had penned I felt as if God was saying; ‘I haven’t moved away from you, I’m still here!’

This is true also for you and me. Maybe this is one of the key reasons why this special psalm seems to resonate so deeply with us. This psalm proclaims that God hasn’t distanced Himself from us. As I reflected on this, I was moved to write on Psalm 23 for one more week.

“Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.” Psalm 23 (The Modern King James Version)

In this incredibly powerful psalm, God reveals Himself as Jehovah Rohe (The Lord is my Shepherd). In doing so, God is seeking to show us that everything a good shepherd is to the sheep, God is to His people. We should keep in mind also that Jehovah Rohe is not only the shepherd of His people, He is also known as my shepherd, the shepherd of each of us.

In writing this psalm David recalls his early experiences as a young shepherd boy and the stormy troubled years when he was outlawed and hunted as a fugitive by King Saul. He reflects on the guiding hand of God throughout his life and can find no more beautiful and fitting analogy of Jehovah’s relationship to himself than that of a shepherd to his sheep. No other name of God has such a tender and intimate tone to it as Jehovah Rohe.

Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand the intimate and tender relationship which shepherds from biblical times had for their sheep. Shepherds lived with their sheep night and day; cared for them as they would their own children and called each of them by name. Psalm 23 does remind us that everything a good shepherd is to his sheep, Jehovah Rohe is to His people. How blessed are we to know and experience such a thing?

My prayer for the students and this community is we can know and recall how much God loves us. His love can strengthen us and enable us to live with confidence and to live in a manner that brings honour and praise to Him.