I will fear no evil,
for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)
Psalm 23 is a good word for every stage of our lives. In it, David reminds us that “he guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). My Good Shepherd has it in his heart to guide me along the best paths because his good care for me reflects well on him. Just as I want my own sons to live well because it says something about how I’ve served them as a father, so the Lord shepherds me away from rutted, empty, wayward paths and toward nourishing, refreshing, fulfilling ones.
Even those best paths, however, will take me through dark seasons.
Darkness can come with losses such as a prodigal child, a chronic illness, divorce, job loss, aging parents, or the death of someone close to us. I’m guessing you’re like me: I would rather never walk through dark valleys. But since I must at times journey through such places, I am grateful I’m not walking alone. My Good Shepherd guides me, protects me from evil, and brings me comfort when I’m tempted to give in to anxiety, fear, doubt, or insecurity.
Finally, consider the image in the next verse of this psalm:
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Of course, I’d prefer sharing a sumptuous feast with my friends, but when my enemies threaten my joy, my gracious Host provides a place of hospitality for me. I enjoy the Shepherd’s goodness in the presence of evil. I can then share that goodness in ways that might even overcome evil. Trust this reality today.
Spend some time thanking your Good Shepherd for ways he’s been shepherding you.
I’m Being Followed
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23:6)
The last lines of Psalm 23 answer to a general sense of dread that something bad is about to happen. I have often felt I live in a world that feels unsafe and threatening. These feelings are like an echo of something old; they are not feelings rooted in adult realities. I didn’t know Jesus as my Shepherd for the first seventeen years of my life. Instead I experienced a world where worry and abandonment seemed to follow me all the time.
But now I know that I live in a world where Jesus personally shepherds me.
There is nothing I truly need that he does not provide. All I desire I find in him and receive from him. And if I’m being followed, it’s by his goodness and love, and this will be true for eternity. I will always have a home in God’s presence, and this reality is quite a contrast to beliefs formed in my childhood and experienced in emotions I still carry around as an adult.
I want to keep growing in this wholesome reality. I want to work together with my Good Shepherd as he replaces my childhood leftovers of angst, insecurity, fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. I want to trust Jesus more deeply and rely on God’s goodness and love following me, surrounding me always.
What does it mean to you—despite the challenges you face now—that God’s goodness and love are with you and will follow you all the days of your life?
Alan Fadling is president and founder of Unhurried Living, Inc. in Mission Viejo, California. He speaks and consults internationally with organizations such as Saddleback Church, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Cru, Halftime Institute, Apprentice Institute, and Open Doors International. He is the award-winning author of An Unhurried Leader and An Unhurried Life, which was honored with a Christianity Today Award of Merit in spirituality. He is also coauthor (with Gem Fadling) of What Does Your Soul Love? His latest book is entitled A Year of Slowing Down: Daily Devotions for Unhurried Living(12/2022).