(Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com)
Read Psalm 23
If there is one thing that is plentiful in Israel, that is well-worn pathways around the country. One of the many reasons God chose the land of Israel to plant His promise was due to the fact that it was a natural crossroads of the world. Folks coming from Europe or Asia had to pass through Israel to go to Africa and vice-versa.
One of the aspects I love so much about teaching in Israel is the voluminous amount of object lessons contained in the land. Jesus knew this and used so many to highlight, amplify or illustrate His points – lilies of the field, stormy seas, the grass withering, etc.
On one of our daily excursions our guide pointed out that if we look closely off to our right we’ll see a place called the Valley of Deep Darkness and we were also able to make out the trail on which the Shepherd took His sheep in and through that dark valley. Yes, like Psalm 23 mentions, there really is a place called Valley of Deep Darkness (Shadow of Death).
In other parts of the land, I took a bunch of pictures of shepherds guiding their sheep. Unlike old TV shows like Rawhide or movies like City Slickers, shepherds don’t prod the sheep. They go out in front of them and call the sheep by name. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. Further, before the shepherd would call out the sheep to go on this journey, He first blazed the trail. In other words, he went and scouted out every step, every nook and cranny, every high and low place on the journey so that he could fully care for his sheep. THEN, he called them by name and set out on the journey.
In Psalm 23:3 it says of the Shepherd, “He guides them in the paths of righteousness”. Another word for path in Hebrew is “well worn grooves”. Land that developed into visible paths because of the amount of people and the amount of times people walked on this part of the land.
Our Shepherd is guiding us on the path well traveled! So be encouraged by these truths:
- Count on the fact that before the Shepherd called you by name He already blazed the path that He would take you on.
- Be encouraged to know that when life deals you surprises, big and small, recognize that the Shepherd already knows the whole path from beginning to end; thus nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing! (I did the emphasis to help continue to drive this point through my thick skull!)
- The dark valley that you are presently experiencing is not, I repeat, IS NOT a detour or something that came into your life because God hates you and can’t forgive you or because He got distracted and forgot about you. That dark valley, rather, is a planned part of the experience that the Shepherd has for you. If you want me to fully explain that to you now, then to quote a New Yorka, “Forgetta bout it!” I’m still working on this one myself. 🙂
- The bottom-line. The Good Shepherd is guiding you on the path well traveled because He traveled it first and knows it best.
- Stay on His road and you won’t e-rode!