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April 25

Psalm 23, 1-3

Something to read

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 right paths for his name's sake.
New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

Few words of scripture are better known than these. We are the flock in the safe and abundant care of our shepherd God.

Some have reacted to this as a negative image: sheep as mindless and utterly uninvolved in their own futures; faithful people as mere pawns in the hands of an admittedly benevolent God.

But these words do not turn us into passive pieces in God's cosmic game. Nor was ancient shepherding a gentle pursuit.

The Psalmist looks at the world around and sees the risky business of leading the flock in a sometimes harsh land. There were dangers for shepherds from wild animals and thieves.

The land could be inhospitable. It took patience and courage to be a shepherd. And the best shepherds would even give up their own safety to protect their flock.

God, we are told, wants our good. We matter. And it is in God's nature to be devoted to our flourishing. We are led not because God thinks us mindless, but because God knows we live fragile and fickle lives and God desires the best for us. We are guided, not bullied. We are restored, not mocked.

Something to do

Take a notebook with you today, or a scrap of paper, or your smartphone. Take a few moments during the day to note down the decisions you have to make. Some will be huge. Some very small. As the day draws to a close, reflect upon how you made your decisions.

What drove you? Where was God in the process? How do you look for and acknowledge God's guidance? Have you learnt anything for tomorrow's decisions?

Something to pray

O Lord,
our shepherd,
we praise you.
You have given us life.
Help us to give this day to you.
You promise to lead and bless.
Help us to trust.

Today's contributor is the Rev Neil Thorogood, Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge.

 

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