By Timothy Hughes
The Lord is my Shepherd. He restores my soul.
He restores my soul from sin by showing me that Christ and His ways are always better. He shows me that His ways are better than what my flesh lusts for. He shows me that His ways are better than what my eyes wrongly turn to and long for in this world. And He shows me that a meek and lowly resting in Him is a position far more exalted than any earthly position my grasping, ambitious pride could desire in this life.
His way of love is better than my way of selfishness. His way of joy is better than my ways that would only result in despair. His way of peace is better than the wars and fightings my flesh would always have me waging against others. His way of patience is far better than my desire for instant gratification. His way of kindness is so much better than the mean, angry, harsh spirit that would rule over my relationships with others without His intervention. His true goodness is beautiful and life-changing. Without Him, my best works would only be as filthy rags. He took me, a faithless sinner, brought me to faith, and is teaching me His faithful ways. He would take my anger and teach me gentleness. He would take my intemperate pursuit of my owns wants and desires and give me instead a Spirit-filled self-control.
And when I turn my gaze to Him in simple, repentant faith I hear my Shepherd remind me in words He used during His journey on earth, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
He restores my soul from doubt and fear by showing me that His Word is better. He takes my confidence in self—my intellect, my experience, my traditions, my understanding, observations, and opinions—and replaces it with simple trust in His Word. When I am tempted to doubt Him, tempted to look away, tempted to place confidence again in the broken cisterns of man’s empty reasoning, He calls me instead to drink from the fountain of His soul-satisfying river of the incomprehensible pleasures of God. And He teaches me that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge—the only sure source of wisdom and truth about the world around us and the world inside us and the world we cannot see and the world to come.
And when I turn my gaze to Him in uncomplicated, totally dependent faith I again hear my Shepherd remind me in words He used during His journey on earth, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
He restores my soul in times of weakness and hurt by showing me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He lifts my gaze from small things to behold His greatness. I look at His glories and my sight is restored. I rise to follow Him and my halting lameness is healed. He loosens my tongue to speak of His glory. And He makes my weakness a testimony of His strength.
When I realize how fleeting life is, I remember that He is the Creator of Eternity. When I am pressed by the pressures of a hostile world, He is my Prince of Peace. In my weakness, He is my Mighty God. In my perplexities, He is my Wonderful Counselor. In my earthly sorrow, He is my enduring Joy. In my defeat, He is my great Victory. In my fear, He is my Confidence. In my darkness, He is my Light. In loss, He is my great Gain. In poverty, my true Wealth. In my uncertainty, He is my sure Hope. In death, He will be my everlasting Life.
My Shepherd walked the path of human suffering long ago, and He leads me faithfully today, every step of the way.
He restores my soul. Our Shepherd calls broken, hurting, and helpless sinners like me and says, “You are mine, I have redeemed you—don’t be afraid.” He comes to failing, faltering saints—and He tests our love—restores us—and repeats these words, first spoken during His earthly journey long ago as He restored another disciple to usefulness: “Feed my sheep.”
Praise my Savior, my Good Shepherd and the Restorer of His beloved sheep! For He restores my soul.
Timothy Hughes (PhD, Bob Jones University) works in the office of ministerial advancement and teaches seminary courses at Bob Jones University. This article was originally posted to his blog and is reposted here by permission.