March 7, 2021 Third Sunday of Lent
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3
The Path of Righteousness. The sheep have been restored in the presence of the Shepherd beside green pastures and still waters. Now as they (we) are led on this new path, most of us probably think that “righteousness” has something to do with us. But these righteous paths are not at all about what we do to be right with God, such as mere adherence to religious rules, but more about a life with God, delighting in trusting day and night the one who leads us on good paths of peace and wholeness. Jesus spoke against being burdened with expectations of perfectionist practices: “Do and observe whatever (the religious leaders) tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.They do all their deeds to be seen by others.” (Matthew23:4)
What burden might you be putting on yourself that is keeping you from walking with the Shepherd on the path ahead?
He leads me. How much more personal can this be? God guides me. I follow. Maybe we need to focus on the face of the one leading, recognize the right-ness and goodness of guidance that smooths the way forward:
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Psalm 3:6 (AMP)
As I meditated on this metaphor of sheep being led on a path with the Shepherd, the Spirit brought to my mind the words compassion and forgiveness. Compassion has grown in me during this season as a caregiver, when I long for each and every movement, task, and word I speak to be filled with love, care, and healing for my loved one. Forgiveness must also be present, first for myself when I fail to make good decisions or become impatient in the process, and second for each member of our family care team as we serve together.
As you meditate on Psalm 23:1-3, what words come up for the path ahead of you? What do you notice about the Shepherd as he leads?
For His Name’s Sake. These four words sum up the reasoning behind everything God has done to display his glory, beauty, and salvation for all people. As God said “For my name’s sake, for my name’s sake, for my name’s sake. (Isaiah 48:11) In Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple he said that all people will come “because of your name, your great name…all the people’s of the earth may know your name and worship you.” (1 Kings 8) And may God bless us…bless us…bless us…so that all the nations might know the way of the Lord. (Psalm 67)
We take the path of blessing, the path of beauty, the path of God’s righteousness all to follow the Shepherd, to lay down our lives, to take up our cross, to delight in the knowing and being known, loving and being loved. The reasoning is not logical but primary to our discipleship. As the Mandalorian says, “This is the Way.”
Take some moments to imagine the Shepherd calling you to take the path ahead with him. What emotions are stirred up in you? Do you look back in hesitation, do you run ahead, or …..
Praise: Bifrost Arts, O God, Will You Restore Us?
The Lord will guide you on a righteous path
His vindication will shine down forth as the dawn
Your people will be called repairers of broken walls
Making straight the path to proclaim His reign!