Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Cup Runneth Over...

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life..." Psalm 23, NKJV


I have been listening to one of my all time favorite radio pastors, Crawford Loritz, teaching a series on the 23rd Psalm.  A man who deeply loves the Lord, in this teaching entitled "When You Need Rest" Crawford pulls the listener inside this much loved psalm to carry us right up to the Shepherd lovingly and tenderly shepherding His flock.  I have listened to this beautiful exposition of Psalm 23 over and over again, always finding more to learn, more to "drink", more to bless my hungry soul.  Here are a few of the beautiful, life-giving images he has left me with from his teaching.
He "anoints my head with oil".  You are the only little lamb He is tending to right now.  He gathers you in His arms and tenderly raises your head, bruised and battered by the wolf that tried to steal you from the Shepherd until the Shepherd rescued you.  Only moments ago, you were terrified of the power of the enemy that desired to devour you.  Now, holding you so close to His heart, you can hear His heartbeat, He pours the most beautiful, fragrant oil upon your head, letting it drip down all over you from head to toe.  You are saturated with His love, His "oil of gladness", a healing balm like no other.  You are basking in the love of your Shepherd, who has rescued you out of the mouth of the enemy.  You nestle closer and closer to the Shepherd, whose voice you recognize calling your name.   Never have you heard a sweeter sound...
He "sets a table before me in the presence of my enemies..."  You are seated at a table in the very center of an enormous banquet hall.  You feel the hundreds and hundreds of eyes peering at you from every table in the room.  These are eyes of hatred.  Eyes of envy.  Eyes that lie.  They are the eyes of your enemies.  You sit at the very center with extravagant displays of love all over your table.  The Shepherd has set the table in your honor.  He flaunts His love for you.  You are the "apple of His eye".  His attention is completely focused on you.  He desires to meet your every need.  He is bragging on you!  He wants everyone in the room to know, you belong to Him.  You are safe "in the presence of your enemies..."

"My cup runneth over..."  He is standing close to you with a bottle of the finest, most expensive wine money can buy.  He has asked you to raise your cup so that He can pour you a drink.  As you hold your simple little paper cup up for Him to fill, He pours and pours and pours, extravagantly allowing the wine to overflow your cup and run down your arms, covering you with His love.  Once again, you are overcome with His overwhelming generosity and affection.  He doesn't spare a drop but pours and pours until there is nothing left.  He will even pour out Himself to satisfy your every thirst...

"Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life..."  You have run away from the flock again and gotten into the briars.  You are caught in the thicket and the wolves are howling to each other to come and feast on YOU.  You are regretting so much that you wandered away from the Shepherd.  Silently you whisper His name, longing for His presence to surround you.  No sooner has His name crossed your mind and heart, and He is there.  Although you are hardly recognizeable under the cover of blood and dirt and sores that you have accummulated while wandering far from the Shepherd, He lifts you to his heart and tenderly begins to remove the evidence of your rebellion.  You are home.  He is covering you with "goodness and mercy all the days of your life..." 

I will never read this Psalm the same way again.  Crawford Loritz has taught me how deeply the Shepherd loves me.  He ends his teaching with the poignant question: "Are you allowing the Shepherd to care for you?"  A very fitting question, indeed.  Are you?

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How are you doing on your journey with the Lord? Started yet? Still searching. My prayer is that you will be encouraged to seek after Him with all your heart. Without a doubt, you will find Him. He is searching for YOU!