(Part 4–Your Relationship with God)
One of the first verses a Christian becomes familiar with is Psalm 23:1 which says, The LORD is my shepherd. There is a sense of belonging here. How blessed a truth this is. You are not alone in this world. You have someone to guide you and care for you. How boldly and boastfully (in a good sense) you can say, God is MY shepherd. He cares for you much better than earthly parents. He knows you inside out. There is nothing that concerns you that He doesn’t know or understand.
The wonderful thing in this relationship is that the Shepherd is responsible for you. For you are under His care. He knows when you need rest. At those times, He compells you to take rest. That is the meaning of the verse, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” It also tells us that this shepherd is not a hard taskmaster as many imagine God to be. He is tender-hearted and knows how weak and sometimes how stupid we like sheep are.
As we go ahead in life’s journey we come across places that are dark and slippery. People whom we thought were friends suddenly turn enemies and try to destroy us. Circumstances that were very favourable to us suddenly change. All this is described in this Psalm as walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But there is comfort here too. Your God does not allow you to walk these places alone. He walks with you through these tough places. Not for one moment does He leave you or forsake you. But the difficulty is that since these are dark places sometimes we might not see or hear Him. Yet these places are opportunities to trust God and know His care for you in a very special way.
Jesus made it very clear that He is the good shepherd. That means there are bad shepherds too who do not care for you. And the motive of false shepherds is how to get maximum benefit out of you. They promise you many material blessings. But most of them are after your money. Jesus exposed the character of such shepherds saying that they enter not by the gate, but climb in by some other way. They are thieves and robbers.
But the good shepherd calls his own sheep by name. Isn’t that a blessed truth? Jesus knows you by name. And you can hear and listen to His voice. That voice is what you hear through the Bible as you read it prayerfully. More than all this, Jesus has demonstrated His love for you by laying down His life for you. This is proof of the great value He has put on His relationship with you. Never doubt His love for you because He shed His blood for you.