Speaking to the Soul – February 12

The right paths

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths.
Psalm 23:2-3

Sheep have many fine qualities. They are highly social creatures and very sensitive to one another. However, one of their more troublesome characteristics is that they are inclined to stray. This is even more problematic when you factor in their desire to keep close to their friends. As every shepherd knows, sheep often wander off as a flock. This emphasises the crucial importance of the shepherd. Without a shepherd’s support, sheep are incredibly vulnerable.

It’s not hard to understand why the Bible so often compares human beings with sheep! We too have an inclination to wander from safe paths – and that’s why we need the Lord to be our shepherd. A shepherd is continually concerned with finding pasture for their flock and ensuring the sheep have access to good water supply. This must be particularly demanding in an arid area such as Palestine.

The Lord knows our need for constant nourishment and refreshment. These things are not luxuries but crucial to our spiritual health. He continually helps us find all that we need to sustain our Christian lives. But just as you can lead a horse (or sheep!) to water, but cannot make them drink, so too the Lord can lead us to spiritual water but will never force it upon us. We need to organise our lives in such a way as to ensure that we receive the nourishment we need.

All of us need good spiritual rhythms. We need to read the Bible and pray regularly. And we also need to meet up with Christian brothers and sisters on a regular basis. I would never want to turn this into a rule. Our lives and opportunities are all different. However, we are like sheep – and without regular nourishment and refreshment, we can all too easily wander away. So let’s take action to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

Are you getting the spiritual nourishment and refreshment that you need? If not, what can you do to get them?

Loving Lord, thank you that you are a faithful shepherd to me. Thank you for the ways in which you are constantly guiding me in the right paths. Amen