Refreshment and Renewal (A Walk Through Psalm 23)
“As a kid, I was taught that if you opened the Bible in the middle, you’d probably land on the book of Psalms. And near the middle is everyone’s favorite, the 23rd, there is this line: “You prepare a table before in the presence of my enemies.” I don’t know how many times I’ve read or recited this Psalm without pondering what that line actually means, but here is my take on it, when things are a bit tense when life is not going at its best, when the potential for disaster is just around the corner when your enemies are all around you — and even staring you down! — that’s when God lays out the red-checkered picnic cloth and says, “Oooo, this is a nice place. Let’s hang out here together for a while — just you and me.”
― David Brazzeal, Pray Like a Gourmet: Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul
I imagine many of you have read Psalm 23. (if you haven’t, let’s read this chapter together from The Message Translation).
“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows; you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.”
“If no one cares for you, you are truly alone.” — Frank Reed.
Although these words are often closely associated with comfort, especially in times of death, I encourage you to process them through the lens of daily life and our spiritual journey afresh today. Friends, I want to remind you that you are not alone. You are so deeply cared for and wanted. When life seems to be coming at you from every direction, God is preparing a feast for you and invites you to come and sit with him.
Let’s re-read these words with me, with poetic license taken by Toki Miyashina. As you read these words, imagine the words taking shape all around you.
The Lord is my pace-setter; I shall not rush;
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness
Which restores my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency,
Through calmness of mind: and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day
I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness and his all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of activity.
By anointing my mind with the oils of tranquility,
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I will walk in the pace of the Lord.