0 In Faith/ Feast/ Spiritual Growth

The Valley of a New Normal

My family gathered in our living room. Still in our pajamas (or for some, the clothes from the previous day that we just slept in). No one is really going anywhere lately in light of the coronavirus quarantine. Therefore, daytime clothing and sleeping attire just kind of run together. We gathered for church. Which, presently, comes to us via live stream. Thanks to the faithful folks leading and teaching and ministering to an empty room in order to love and serve God and His people watching from their couches.

As our Pastor shared from Psalm 23, I saw this all familiar passage in a new light, from a new perspective, amidst a new normal.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3


I’ve never really paused at the first two words of this passage… until now. “The Lord”. David, the author of this Psalm, prominently proclaims these two words because he knows first hand WHO The Lord is. David’s confidence found on the pages of our Bible come from an assurance of WHO God is, in spite of his circumstances. His assurance was not easily attainted. It came from hard fought for wrestling with doubt, temptation, failure and fear. As our pastor paused, just two words into the this passage, he asked us this… Who does God say He is? When we think of the Lord, what comes to mind? Do we tend to function from who we say the Lord is or who He ACTUALLY is? It made me think. Causing me to consider how I would answer.

How would you answer? Right now, in the midst of whatever the coronavirus pandemic means for you. What thoughts and ideas come to your mind? Luke 9:23 reminds us of this: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” As we consider who THE LORD is and what that means for our lives, let us be encouraged to lay down our own perfect plan for our lives. Freeing our grasp in order to receive God’s best for us. Even if that feels frightening or frustrating.

God’s ways of reorienting our minds and consequently our souls is rough work sister. BUT GOD is in it for our good and His glory. Which is a payoff you don’t want to miss out on.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.[a]

    He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]

    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:2-3


He MAKES ME lie down. Well, if that isn’t thoroughly appropriate in all of our lives right now, then I don’t know what is! In some way or another, we are all being compelled to lie down… hit pause… put on hold… pull back… let go… post pone… and clear our schedules. God has allowed us time. Something that none of us seem to ever have enough of. Now we do. We have an opportunity to lie down, in green pastures.

Now, this horticultural verbiage doesn’t mean what we think it means. It’s not necessarily the pasture we have envisioned in our own minds. Such as: a well planned out future, our dream job, a marriage, a conflict-free marriage, or even me time. Biblically, pasture is symbolic for God’s provision. So often, God’s best provision is… himself and his supernatural gifts to us. It merely requires us making space for stillness and silence. This space provides an onramp for the spirit of God to fulfill us in a way nothing else can.

You keep him in perfect peace

    whose mind is stayed on you,

    because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

At times this pasture may come in the form of quality time with a good friend, reconciliation in a strained relationship, forgiveness in place of bitterness, an act of kindness, rest, financial relief, or even healing. But always, and I mean always, God’s provision offers this…

  • His peace in the storm
  • His sovereignty in the uncertain
  • His love in the loneliness
  • His strength in the fragility
  • His victory in the brokenness


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

God tells us that we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death AND not fear. Although many of us have heard this before, maybe we can look a bit closer, as if this phrase is totally unfamiliar to us. For starters, just what is the valley of the shadow of death anyway? According to my ESV commentary, this is a reference to the valleys found in Judah, where one encounters deep shadows, not knowing what wild animals or bandits may be lurking. These desert valleys can also experience flash floods bringing a wave of devastation without warning. When God is our shepherd, he is an ever present strength and security (rod and staff) during our valley crossing.

The Valley will translate differently for each of us. The shadow of death may mean the deep pain of losing a loved one. It may mean death of a certain relationship or connection (hello #socialdistancing). Maybe it’s death of some idea of security, or control. Or maybe death of an expectation, a job, or meaningful experience that many currently relate to.

Right now, as we all live through a global pandemic, some of us are walking through the valley of the unimaginable and some the valley of the inconvenient. Either way, God is present with us. He cares deeply about our souls (see verse 3 above)!

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely[d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[f] in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23:5-6

This past week, as my house church met virtually on our computer screens, one of our members shared something that I though was so good. He said, “None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Guess what? We never did.” Ain’t that the truth!

Friends, The Lord is still our shepherd. And a good shepherd will allow his sheep to walk through the valley at times. Because he knows this: what is on the other side will be worth it.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:9-11


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