Boast In The Lord January 12th, 2023

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

I remember those summer days in Asbury Park, NJ when Jesus clearly called me into His Kingdom. Becoming a Christian was not on the oceanside plan while on break from college that summer. Break had already started well with a job on the boardwalk. But over a span of four days in early July my world would be confronted with the reality of His existence. I could do nothing but give Him my life. 
I didn’t really know what that meant. And no one really told me.  I knew I had made a decision to life-journey with Christ, but I wasn’t aware that He had made a decision to life-journey with me. This was a total surprise. 
I began to read something extraordinary and counter-cultural as I opened His Word during those first weeks. Jesus simply said “follow me.” It suggested that He would go before me. It suggested that the journey is, at its heart, a call to follow Him, instead of Him following me. 
I began to understand It as that shepherd piece of His love and ministry. 
But can I trust Him with life decisions? Are His promises true? Maybe He has too many people to care about?  After all, it is a big world!  These were some questions I had!
But He tells me that seeking first the Kingdom results in all other things being added. That is a challenge and risk. But that summer He was teaching me His closeness in my daily life. I couldn’t really understand what it all meant for the future, but I was ready to go “all in”. There really was no other alternative that made rational sense based on what I was reading in the Gospels.
Then I read the 23rd Psalm and it became clear. He was taking a shepherd’s responsibility; my part was to follow Him. 
As I reflect on all of this, I look back over my years and realize He has never let me be in particular “want” of anything.  He has shown me those quiet waters of renewal and meaning; He has had me lie down in green, good pastures. He has rested my soul when I didn’t even realize I needed it. I have been in some shadows of death for sure, but that proverbial table where I could be at peace and even have a meal of His setting would prove so real.

His shepherding of life has shown me that He is intimately acquainted and present in life’s twists and turns. And I know that I will dwell in His very house forever. As I reflect and boast in the Lord this new year, it starts with a deep gratitude to Jesus who is ever present in my real life, even in the hardships.

“Dear Lord, though I do not understand every twist and turn, it is clear that you are leading me. I have a call to follow to the best of my understanding. You love me and pledge to be my shepherd. I need not fear going “all in”, as your promises never fail. Thank you so much!”

David Janssen

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