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.
What makes all the difference for the sheep? What is the difference between life and death for them? The shepherd. And specifically the care the shepherd takes of the sheep. And one important aspect of that: leading and guiding.
In our new hymnal, Voices Together, the Benediction for Morning Prayer reads:
God will guide us continually, and satisfy our needs in parched places, and we shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Amen.
Notice that the shepherd leads, the shepherd does not drive the sheep or coerce them. They simple follow the shepherd’s lead. The shepherd goes before them. Jesus leads the way for us. Yes, by his example in trusting in his Father and following even to the point of the death of the cross. But clearing the way for us so that we can live in the same blessing in which he lives.
It’s vitally important for us, as Christ’s sheep to follow the lead of our Shepherd. The Spirit enables us to do that, along with Scripture. We need to be intent in simply following. Not going off and doing our own thing, which we’re ever so prone to be doing. As if we either have to figure it out, or have it figured out. That comes to a dead end, darkness, and finally, death. No, we move only with the Lord’s leading.
That will give us the light we need in our own darkness, in the darkness of this world. In and through Jesus.