Invitation to Rest

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Kingdom Living

Jesus described the good news as “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He meant that the kingdom is not only when we get to heaven, but it is available to us now. He even encourages us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. We experience the goodness of God when we live in His kingdom. We even can learn to live life abundantly (John 10:10).

“The gospel of the kingdom steadies us against believing anything bad about God. It calls us, rather, to believe that what is good God will bring to pass.”

Dallas Willard, “Dallas Willard’s Definitions,” Soul Shepherding website.

Kingdom of God Exercise

It is exciting to me to begin to fully grasp what kingdom living can be like in my present circumstances. So what does living in God’s kingdom look like? This past month, I have been spending time in Psalm 23 with my fellow cohorts at the Renovaré Institute as a way to learn what it is like to live in the Kingdom of God. I can’t think of a better passage of scripture to help us see what Kingdom living is like and to goodness of God. As we spent time this month reading through and meditating on this Psalm we were to answer these questions:

What image or phrase from Psalm 23 has stayed with you most? How have you been using it and what observations have you made about your view of God and your choices of trust and surrender?

One way to further our mediation of Psalm 23 was to envision ourselves in this picture of Jesus tending to the sheep.  Imagine yourself as the sheep receiving the refreshing drink from Jesus and experiencing His tender love for you.  As you continue to look at the picture, review Psalm 23 and see what parts of the Psalm speak to you.

“Beside Quiet Waters” by Yongsung Kim

My Experience with Psalm 23

I thought I would share with you what God has been speaking to me about as I have spent time this month in Psalm 23. First, lets take a moment and feast on Psalm 23.  As we do, what images or phrases stay with you the most?

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4       Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;   your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5       You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
         you anoint my head with oil;  my cup overflows.
6       Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
         and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I have walked with Psalm 23 in various ways this month, but none more meaningful than while I am walking my dog. I hope you don’t mind a few pictures of the path I walk daily with my dog Chaucer and a view of the lake we walk around together each day. I have really enjoyed meditating on Psalm 23 on my daily walks. In these pictures you can see still water, green pasture (ok green grass) and a beautifully tree lined pathway. It really helped me to picture Psalm 23 walking this path and envisioning my Shepherd guiding me along the way.

The part of the Psalm that impacted me the most was the beginning.  The Lord is my Shepherd. First, it was a constant reminder that there is a shepherd that is looking after me, to guide, provide, and protect me.  Second this is MY shepherd. He personally knows me and looks after me. I am not a faceless person in a crowd that will go unnoticed. He knows me personally and I have the freedom and right to call him mine.  Third, this is no ordinary shepherd among other shepherds tending flocks.  My shepherd is Almighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace! All the rest of the psalm describes the type of shepherd my shepherd is. This is so meaningful to me because I can tend to wander off from the flock on my own, content to do my own thing. At those times life can be lonely and scary. But then my shepherd calls me, I recognize His voice, and He welcomes me back from my wandering.

One other piece that I found meaningful was how he anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows. When I got my degree in counseling, my mother-in-law gave me a book called “God’s Psychiatry.”  A portion of the book describes Psalm 23.  The author’s interpretation of this section of Psalm 23 is powerful.  Sticking to the shepherd theme, the author notes that when the shepherd calls the sheep back to the fold at the end of the day, he does two things. One, he checks the sheep for any wounds received from grazing the field and anoints those wounds with oil for healing.  Two, he also had a large jug of water and would take his cup and dip it deeply in the jug and when he pulled the cup out of the jar, water would overflow.  The tired sheep could drink deeply reviving his energy. What an amazing picture to have at the end of every day.  I go out and graze in the field of life and at the end of the day my Shepherd awaits me to heal my wounds and quench my thirsty soul.

Part of my bedtime routine this month has been to recount my day and bring it to my Shepherd where I can experience His healing of any wounding and refreshment for my soul.

How about you? What does Psalm 23 mean to you and how does it help you envision life in the Kingdom?

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