Heathdale flower 23rd July 2021

I’m still here!

'The Lord is my shepherd', a phrase that helps us understand the tender care God has for each of us.

Heathdale flower

I love a good story, especially one that recounts the footsteps of a person’s life. It helps me to know a person on a deeper level and stories often provide insights into how they think, act and interact.

The other night I stumbled across such a show on television. It told the story of the Australian Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Paul Kelly. He is known for his particular brand of songwriting that tells a story of particular events or people. The show went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate the events that profoundly influenced his writings and really gave an incredible insight into his past.

Paul Kelly grew up in Adelaide and was one of six children raised by very devout Catholic parents. He attended Mass weekly, served as an Altar Boy and was deeply immersed in this faith tradition even to the point that when his Dad passed away from a heart attack on a Saturday night, his mother woke him up in the morning, informed him of his father’s passing and then they got dressed and went off to Mass as they did every Sunday!

As an older man, Paul Kelly spoke about the point in his life where he ‘just didn’t believe anymore’! He lost his faith and I started to wonder what was it that made him turn away from God. It probably wasn’t one thing but a culmination of many things but still I 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. The words that he penned were a soothing balm to his soul and still captured the sentiment of the original psalm found 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’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.

The Lord 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. 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)

Sometimes in this day and age it is difficult for us to understand the intimate and tender relationship which shepherds had for their sheep. Shepherds lived with their sheep night and day; cared for them as they would their own child and called each of them by name. Psalm 23 reminds us that everything a good shepherd is to his sheep, The Lord Our God is to His people. Not only the shepherd of His people, He is also known as myshepherd, the shepherd of each and every one of us.

How blessed are we to know and experience such a thing? In the busy-ness of life we can forget this but as we recall how much God loves us, it can strengthen us and enable us to live with confidence and to live in a manner that brings honour and praise to Him.