‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.’
– Psalm 23:2-3
Throughout the previous posts, we’ve been walking through the realities of life with scrolls of psalms in hand, seeing how the psalmist doesn’t duck the real and often pressing issues of life. In fact, we’ve seen how the psalmist stands in the flux of life and draws strength from the never-changing God. Here in Psalm 23, probably one of the most famous passages of scripture, we are confronted with many wonderful truths, but today I would like us to look at the nomadic nature of discipleship. The psalmist says ‘The Lord is my shepherd… He leads me …’
In first-century Palestine, this image of sheep following a shepherd would have almost passed without comment, yet in our culture and time the image needs more thought. Why? Firstly, because nomadic lifestyles are such a alien concept to most of us. Secondly, because few of us like change!
Here are four lessons we can learn from this verse about living as a nomadic people:
1. At the simplest level, living as a people who wholeheartedly welcome and embrace a ‘He leads me ‘lifestyle will require that we get used to change, and at same time learn to quiet our hearts so we can tune our ears into the one true all-satisfying constant; the quiet, reassuring voice of the shepherd.
2. Nomadic people have long abandoned the desire to chase the green, green grass in the next field because nomadic people have learnt that our safety, sufficiency and source is found in the shepherd who is on the move.
3. Nomadic people have also chosen to abandon a settling, tradition-loving attitude. Why? Because our faith and community life together is pretty simple. Follow the shepherd. Follow his lead!
4. Finally, a nomadic community of faith is a place that prioritises making space for us to hear the shepherd’s voice. This means gathering together to pray, and praying some more and some more! Some of the decisions we make will seem crazy (like passing a lush green field) unless you’ve grown accustomed to asking, ‘Where is the shepherd taking us next?’
‘He leads [us]…’