He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:2-3NIV)
Last week we saw how the Father provides for us in that place of stillness and rest. When we stop, or when we give up! It is then that he can take over and lead us. We, often, are busy and 'intentional' on trying to discover the right pathway through life; sometimes we get it right, other times we're maybe not so sure.
There is something reassuring about being led. When a father leads a child it's safe, the child does not have to make any decisions, they simply rest in being led. We have a Father who wants to lead us, he leads us in the comfort of a safe place and he knows the right way for us to follow.
Not only is this a safe place, it's also a place of refreshment or restoration. The tiredness and burden of our own effort can fall away as we walk with him on the pathway of contentment. He knows the way and it is a good way.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:1-2 NIV)
I've recently been reflecting on Psalm 23. Of course, it's a very well known Psalm and one quoted by Christians and non-Christians alike. As I've read it, I've seen again how much it describes the loving nature of our Heavenly Father and his constant care and provision for his children.
In a turbulent world, it's very reassuring for us to know that we have a Shepherd who provides all we need. It is interesting to me that this provision is in a place of rest or stillness. To me, this means we have to stop and be still. We have to stop chasing after what we need and let Him be our Provider.
In fact the Psalmist is insistent. We are compelled to lie down in the safety of the pasture and then, in that place of rest and stillness, there is provision. This is re-iterated by Jesus in Matthew 6. If God cares for the birds of the air or the flowers of the field, how much more does he care for us and knows what we need.
This is a Psalm that speaks of God's presence and the provision we find as we rest in that presence. Today, I encourage you to find that place of stillness in which you will discover the Father's provision for you.
There is one thing that is attracted to an orphan heart more than anything else and that’s fear. Fear and an orphan heart are like two magnets that stick firmly together.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NIV)
When Adam and Eve chose to walk in independence and to separate themselves from their loving Father the first thing they said was “I was afraid, so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). They realised their own nakedness, shame and vulnerability and for the first time they felt afraid. Fear took them into hiding.
That’s what fear does, it causes us to hide from the Father and like Adam, there is no hiding place for the Father knows exactly where we are. God calls Adam out of his hiding place and in love he covers his shame and the broken fig leaves of performance and self effort.
Two magnets will stick together if they are aligned in a certain way. However, if you turn one of them around it will push the other one away. That’s what happens with love and fear. Whilst fear is attracted to an orphan heart it will be pushed away when love comes. Love always drives fear away.
Whatever your fears, you can bring them to the Father and ask him, by the power of his perfect love, to drive them away. Fear paralyses, love will set you free.
There is nothing wrong with a bar of chocolate, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. What, however, can be wrong is the place those things have in our heart. They can become false comforts.
“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass.” (Isaiah 51:3 & 12 NIV)
When we are not comforted by the only source of true comfort, the Father’s love, we will look for comfort in other areas. Food, clothes, shopping, our jobs, our family, possessions or our wealth. We reach for something we hope will satisfy the deepest longing our heart. We search, hoping to find the thing that will alleviate the pain, distress and affliction that we carry. These things may be good in their own right but if we give them the wrong place in our heart they become like a medicine. Something we take (regularly) as we seek relief from our internal restlessness.
True comfort, the lasting comfort that satisfies us within only comes from the Father. He is the only one who can transform the barren places of our heart into a fruitful garden. He is the only one who can replace sorrow with joy and gladness.
I encourage you to bring your false comforts to the Father. Hand them over in exchange for his comforting love that will truly satisfy. In letting go of these false comforts there is freedom.