“You will show me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy.” “You comprehend my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” “The Lord is my shepherd. He leads me besides still waters. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
All the statements above were voiced by the same man, David, the shepherd who became king, the beloved psalmist of Israel (Psalm 16:11; 139:3; 23:1-2). But he seemed to understand that the path of life, the paths of righteousness do not always lead into places we want to go. Sometimes the path of life, the paths of righteousness do take us through places where we are stripped of what we value … both people and things. Sometimes the path of life which He, our Father, shows us, is through the wilderness and winds up steep mountains. None of this is news to us … cognitively. But when head knowledge becomes life experience, in the midst of the harsh landscapes and the rocks and the heat of our paths we can begin to doubt what David spoke of with confidence – the One Who shows us “the path of life,” also leads us and in His presence we can experience fullness of joy, even when the path of life is difficult. He does not just point out the path. He leads us and is ever present, even when we feel alone. He does not only give us instructions on how to navigate the darkness and the pleasant places (which sometimes can be more problematic for our intimacy with Him than the hard). He leads us all the way. Hear this truth in the words Joseph H. Gilmore, a hymn writer, penned more than 150 years ago, and be encouraged, fellow pilgrim.
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
NB. The prompt for this post came from Five Minute Friday, a writing community hosted by Kate Motaung.