19 Mar “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3b
The third line of Psalm 23 explores the concept of guidance. We find ourselves currently living in a strange, uncertain, and anxious time. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who said, “David, the problem is that we are simply in uncharted territory.”
But it is true that for all of us, a global viral outbreak is uncharted territory. I certainly have never had to experience uncertainty on this sort of massive scale. Well, it is almost true. It’s uncharted territory for all of us… as humans. With God, it’s a different story. Remember, He led believers through the 1918 influenza outbreak. He also led believers through the Black Plague. Furthermore, He led the Early Church through a 15-year plague in the 2nd Century. And please keep in mind – there was no hand sanitizer during any of these outbreaks! Rather, these were all difficult periods, but they were not the end of the story. Believers are still here! A global viral outbreak is not uncharted territory for God, it is just part of the story. And, just as before, He is leading us as believers to act with courageous faith.
In this section of the 23rd Psalm, David (the Psalmist) describes God as a Good Shepherd who leads His sheep in “paths of righteousness”. Think of these as the right way. The sheep are not necessarily being led on the easy path – but that path may be the one which has been staked out by thieves and robbers. It also may not be the shortest path – but that one may have lions and wolves. As Americans, we tend to want to have things come to us easily and/or quickly. But for a shepherd, there was a clear understanding that easy and quick paths are not always the right paths. The righteous path may not be a short path or an easy path, but it gives the sheep an opportunity to trust their shepherd.
That’s where we are today. For us as believers, we have an incredible opportunity to trust God and act with courageous faith. During the Black Plague, believers were virtually the only ones who cared for the sick and acted with compassion. We have an incredible opportunity today to live out our faith with our actions and follow God where He is leading us. After all, He is leading us in “paths of righteousness”. And we are starting to see this – believers in our community are already asking the right questions: How can I help? Who is being ignored? How is God leading me to serve others?
For the past few days, I have had the opportunity each morning to join with other believers through Faith Community in prayer. We are learning together to ask the right questions, and God is leading us in “paths of righteousness”. Does this mean that we will act perfectly throughout the COVID-19 crisis? Absolutely not! But righteousness is about living out our faith as best we can while prayerfully making the best possible choices with the information and knowledge we have. So today I ask you to invite God to lead you in every part of your life. He wants to lead you “in paths of righteousness” in your finances, marriage, parenting, and every single part of your life. He is already waiting to do so, all each of us has to do is say “yes” and start following!