Psalm 23:4 is so comforting.
It let’s us know who is protecting us.
It brings comfort not just on our death bed or the death bed of a loved one but through out life. The things we fear, like death, have no power over us. Things like death are all around us in this world. Our lives can sometimes feel like we are walking through a valley. There is no way to escape it death will one day come. But, we do not need to fear. The fearful things of this life have no power over us because Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 give a real view of the Christian life. It gives words to help us understand what ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ may be like. It allows us to look at difficulties that may come BUT know there is still hope found. It says:
We know that our heavenly Father, our good shepherd, is always with us. He is using his rod to beat off the wolves and his staff to gather us to Him. But…sadly He is not who I always look to when I want protection or comfort.
Sometimes I look to how much money we have in our bank account, sometimes I look to how many people have read my blog during the day week or month, sometimes I look to friends for compliments, sometimes I look to my husband for assurance that ‘I AM OKAY’, sometimes I look to the behavior of my kids, sometimes I look to how much I get done in a day, These are just a few of the ‘hired hands’ I look to in life for protection or comfort or assurance.
I have a long list of hired hands or idols that I go to when I want to feel good, be comforted, or have some sort of assurance of something. Those things that I hire to protect me always leave me high and dry. When life is good and ‘perfect’ and rosy then the hired hand looks to be a good deal but eventually trouble comes and the hired hand is revealed for what he really is. The bank account is too shallow, time to write runs thin, my kids run wild and those ‘hired hands’ all run for the hills or crumble under the reality of life.
The crazy thing about all of this is that all of these ‘hired hands’ are good things. These things I turn into idols are good gifts. Compliments, well behaved children, money in the bank, and assurance from my husband only become ‘hired hands’ when I attribute the work of Christ to them.
I have had this struggle my whole life and I will have it until the day I die. People have had this struggle since the fall. What do you think the whole golden calf ordeal was about. It’s difficult to watch people do the same type of thing that I do in my life. When you see such stupidity and ugliness in their actions and you know you have done the same thing…minus melting all of your jewelry down and making a golden cow. The heart behind the actions is the same.
In case you are not familiar with the story of the golden calf you can find it in book of Exodus chapter 32. Aaron and the people did not make the calf just to have something pretty. Here is what they were saying about the calf after they constructed it. Here is how it goes:
And he received the god from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
They not only created a new calf god but they attributed their release from Egypt to this thing they constructed with their own hands. Does that sound familiar? Attributing something that you made or obtained or want to look to for comfort? for protection? for assurance?
When I finally see that the hired hand or the golden calf is not going to hold up I can see the good shepherd.
Through all of the hired hands and golden calves the Good Shepherd has been caring for me all along. He has been using his staff to beat off the wolves. He may have even been using his staff to beat the idols or the ‘hired hands’ out of my life. He has been using his staff to draw me close to Him. In spite of my idol, golden half, hired hand chasing actions he loves me, comforts me, protects me.