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10th May: My Shepherd (5 cont'd)

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:3

It requires practise to keep looking to him expectantly, despite delays or dashed hopes. Each experience of his leading will add to the encouragement to trust him in the next crisis. He has a way of suddenly making dead ends open up or finding ways around apparently impenetrable barriers. This comes as an affirmation of his presence and assurance of his leading. So often, too, he speaks to us clearly through his word if we have established the habit of reading it day by day. Words of encouragement or direction will be read which the attentive heart will recognise to be personally directed by his Spirit. At other times, an apparently chance encounter, an unexpected invitation, or a bewildering closure of a planned route can be his way of showing us the next step. We can rely on him to be faithful, and the reason for his faithfulness is his love. For him to behave otherwise would be inconsistent and contrary to his good name. When he leads and I follow, this brings praise and glory to him. It is indeed for his name's sake.

These thoughts were written on a train journey which had been fraught with practical problems from the start. At times, it seemed that I could not hope to reach my destination in time, yet on arrival was expected to entertain others to a special celebration lunch. Timing was vital! To crown all, I was surrounded by hundreds of milling football fans. It took a deliberate act of will and of trust not to fret and fume, but to rely on the Lord's loving involvement and concern. It was a little time before I realised that the fans, too, were heading for my home town, that they, too, had a time limit (kick-off time exactly matching my own deadline) and that every effort was being made to get them there in time and therefore to get me there in time. Later, over lunch, the story made a conversation piece, and someone commented that even before I had learned that my original train was cancelled, a great master plan had already swung into action to come to my rescue and ensure that obligations were fulfilled. The remark was made lightly, but my spirit gave a glad assent -- the Shepherd had done it again! So let not your heart be troubled. If he cares about successful lunch parties, he can surely be relied on to clarify career plans as well. He really does lead.

Ever be thou our guide,
Our Shepherd and our pride,
Our staff and song:
Jesus, thou Christ of God,
Be thy perennial word
Lead us where thou hast trod,
Make our faith strong.

Clement of Alexandria (Translated from the Greek by H M Dexter).

Further reading: Jn 10:1-10.


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