Pursue the Right Path in the Selah
Do you find it difficult to pursue or follow the right path in times of uncertainty? In 1963, singer-songwriter, Ricky Nelson sang “I will follow you, wherever you go.” He claimed there was no ocean too deep or a mountain too high to keep him from following. The words of that song came to mind this week in the moment of pause that the entire world is experiencing. Who or what exactly do we pursue or are we following when life turns upside down? What do we think the right path is and are we pursuing it?
The season of Lent causes us to pause, take a break, and breathe in deeply the love of God, reflecting on the right path. Throughout the book of Psalms, there is seen the Hebrew word, “Selah,” which is used at least 71 times and found in the book Habakkuk 3 times. The insertion of the word suggests a break, pause, or interruption. It proposes the need to breathe and take a rest. The term “Selah” is thought to be used as an insertion to act as a musical rest. During Lent, a Selah is a time to take a break from the “business-as-usual” and instead attend to our bodies, minds, souls, and hearts. It is a time set apart for worshipers to connect their faith to the path walk in which they live, move, and travel daily through life.
The Comfort of Psalms 23
Maybe during this now, forced, pause, it is time to fully reflect on the path we pursue and what that path looks like. When uncertainty swirls around us it is easy to allow our fear to take control instead of our trust in God. We want comfort and soothing when we ache and are unsettled, longing for arms to wrap around us protecting and sheltering us from the storm. Too often we place our trust and hope in someone or something else expecting them to take care of us, yet we find no satisfaction in this. It is here that David found himself when he stopped to rest and looked to his creator. The result is the writing of the 23rd Psalms.
Psalms 23 might be considered the most familiar six verses in the Bible. Most people have heard it and most believers have read it, but have we examined its depth and promises? In times of turmoil, we look for comfort, but also direction. We want to make sure we pursue the right path as we seek the balm to soothe our fractured souls. But like David, we want to do more than just exist, we want to live. Psalms 23 is about strengthening ourselves so we can move forward because the Shepherd doesn’t just protect and feed us, He makes us come alive. “He restores my soul.” This is more than just breathing and eating it is living through it all fully and with confidence!
The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all that I need.Psalm 23:1 (NLT)
Having All You Need
Maybe you are reading this and thinking, but I don’t’ and we don’t have all we need because we need relief from this current situation. This verse, however, causes us to pause, rest, and remember that what we long for is to be rid of anything that makes us less than what God created us to be. We want a Kingdom that has justice and peace and refuse to settle for anything less. It isn’t that wanting is bad or against our faith as we are made to want. A life of faith doesn’t remove the wanting for in many ways it accelerates and drives it. But we must stop letting anyone tell us that we are less than we are in God.
When David, paused, he realized that he had all he needed to be alive in God. Maybe what he was trying to say was, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I’m going to stop whining when life doesn’t go the way I want or planned!” In other words, not my will, but Thine be done.
David was a shepherd before he was anything else and he knew that being a sheep means being fully dependent upon the shepherd for safety and protection. Sheep are vulnerable animals, easy prey, and unable to defend themselves. It is in times like what we are experiencing now that we realize how we are more like sheep than we like to admit.
Find and Pursue the Right Path
We are currently powerless to defend ourselves from this virus that crosses all social and economic levels. But let us pause and take a break to clearly remember that Jesus came into the world to lay down His life for all of us. We are His sheep and He did this not so we can survive, but so that we may thrive, coming alive in the fullness of life that He has to offer. It is time to lay our fear aside. Put the panic on the back burner and breathe in deeply the knowledge that God is a caring shepherd and a dependable guide for us to not only pursue but follow.
This places us on the right path as we obey His commands. It is Christ that we must place our hope in for the security of our eternal life. He is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11) It is time to pause and see that by recognizing the Good Shepherd and only following Him that we will find contentment and realize that we have all we need.
Embrace Your Sheepness and Follow the Good Shephard
If we have learned nothing else in the last week, we have learned that life is uncertain. Is there not a better or more right path to pursue than the one that gives us eternal comfort? God offers us His protection even when the enemy surrounds us. The Good Shepherd promises to guide and protect us bringing us into His house forever.
Maybe it is time we pause and fully embrace our “sheepness” and lean not into our own understanding, but into the warmth and comfort that the Good Shepherd offers us with abundant eternal life. Let us praise God that we have enough because He provides all we need and what comfort to know that all are welcome into the arms of the Good Shepherd.
Won’t you be challenged to follow the Good Shepherd putting yourself on the right path and let your fears fall to the wayside? Find your convictions in all that Christ has done for you out of His love and commitment to include laying down His life for you. Embrace your motivation in knowing that when you allow the good Shepherd to guide you, contentment always follows as you keep yourself focused on Him. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that with God’s leading, you will reach green meadows and peaceful streams.
Let us rejoice and praise His name in thanks. Be safe and virtual hugs to all of you and your families.
Love in Christ,
W. S. Merwin – 1927-2019
with the night falling, we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals, we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones, we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks, we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives, we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening, we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is.
What are Your Thoughts?
Are you finding it difficult to remember that the Lord is your Shepherd and that you have all you need in this time of uncertainty? Are you taking the time to pause and take a break to breathe in the love of God and allow His presence to guide you to the right path? Share your thoughts and successes on how the Good Shepherd comforts you on the sometimes-difficult path to pursue when the world tilts.