Summary: The Valley of the shadow

Psalm 23 part II. Sun 25 Aug 2002 am

A Modern Version of the 23rd Psalm by a Japanese writer

The Lord is my Pacesetter - I shall not rush.

He makes me stop for quiet intervals,

He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity,

He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind,

And his guidance is peace.

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret,

For His Presence is here,

His timelessness, His all importance, will keep me in balance

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity,

By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquillity

My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours,

For I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord

And dwell in His House for ever.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at

- shepherding. Still waters. Guidance. Peace

This morning I want to look at

1) The Soul

“He restores my soul”

- there’s a few images, here

a) sheep by water

- led to the water by the shepherd

- lying down in green pastures

X= the wool advert with Pachabel’s canon playing in background

- all fat and fleecy. Clean

Have you seen sheep in Israel?

- sometimes hard to tell if sheep or straggly goat

- can see why I’m not a farmer

Well: this is the picture of the straggly Mediterranean/middle east sheep being restored

- becoming fat and fluffy

- we are in danger of thinking this is only ‘within’. And to us the use of word ‘soul’ justifies this. (and is true. Peace within = most impt)

- but that wasn’t their understanding in OT

- they actually focussed a lot on the ‘outside’, material, here and now

- as very little understanding of afterlife or ‘soul’/spirit

- “if you’re gonna bless me… bless me materially, now, HERE” Make me fat and fluffy!

- Cf: note, Job’s reward was all material

The reward came here and now, and it was physical.

Now- the NT DOES give us a fuller perspective. It’s THEREAFTER that the scales are balanced. And God is very concerned about saving our spirits

- but the approach of the Bible in general is NOT to separate soul, body and spirit

- WE do. ‘it’s inside that matters’, and we follow the Gk culture in doing so

But HERE there is no separation. ‘Soul’ refers to the WHOLE being

- = ‘He restores ME’. Body, mind and spirit

- = a sense of complete wellbeing

- it shows God’s concern for you as a whole being

- God is concerned about your physical health, job, mental state, soul, spiritual life. You

- The hairs on your head. The money in your pocket

- He wants to be helper and Lord of both… ALL

In your journey with Him there WILL be times when He restores you. And you feel fat and fluffy in SO many ways

b) Sheep around the neck

There’s another image of restoration, here

- it’s the shepherd rescuing and restoring the lost sheep

- prodigal sheep style. The sheep who got itself into a state in the brambles of life

- it’s restoration to HIMSELF (the shepherd, the Lord) and the flock (the fold, the body of Christ) rather than within self

- Illustr: Pete Turner (now works for Vis a Vis). Cameraman on Highlander films. Describes how God ‘let him fall’ like a runaway train…and followed him to catch him, and return him

- “and home rejoicing brought me!

- I guess it’s been so long for some of us we have forgotten what it’s like to be ‘restored’ by the Lord. Have become concerned with little things, when in those days, it was just good to be saved!

Philip Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognises that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

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