“He guides me along straight paths”
It was June 2004. It was my second trip to Israel with an outstanding teacher. God gave him the gift of teaching and insight. Because of the passion that I developed on those trips with him and a third trip to Asia, my biblical sight became clearer, and I have been given the gift of leading others to the land to experience the story in its context.
But on one morning in 2004, my teacher was not the best shepherd for our flock. Driving through the Negev Desert, we noticed a shepherd and flock in a perfect setting near the road. We stopped and rushed off the bus to see and to experience Psalm 23.
He told us to wait. He would walk a short distance and call to us. As obedient sheep, we would hear the shepherd’s voice and follow. It seemed like a plan, until we actually stepped onto the straight paths and attempted to traverse them. They were steeper than we expected. There is no place in Israel void of rocks and stones, and these paths were filled with loose rocks and slippery gravel. We were constantly slipping. We soon realized that humans do not have the nimble feet of sheep and goats or the experienced feet of shepherds.
After a short distance, one of our flock let out a blood-curdling scream. She had slipped, and her ankle snapped. Long story short, when an ambulance arrived, our flock became a community as she was carried on a stretcher off an impossibly difficult mountainside.
There is another important piece to our understanding of straight paths. Along those paths are green pastures. Green pastures are not found on every side of a mountain, but only on the sides where evening dew from Mediterranean breezes causes a few seeds to sprout.
The flock is not composed of the brightest bulbs in God’s creation. Sheep are not intelligent animals. They cannot discern the straight paths on their own. They need a shepherd to lead them.
The Lord guides me along straight paths. Life is a desert journey and life is like walking impossible paths at times. The good shepherd knows which paths are safe for the flock and which paths will have food for the flock.
The Lord is MY shepherd. On the desert paths of our lives, we cannot traverse desert paths alone. We will break our ankles and will not find food to sustain us. Trust in God. In desert places, the Lord will guide us along straight paths.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services