“He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul” (Ps. 23:2, 3). Most likely you have heard this passage quoted more times than you can count. No matter how often this much-loved psalm is recited, however, we still seem to miss the full impact of the message: God restores our souls.
How does He do this? He restores our souls through fellowship with Himself. Even though at times we stray far from Him, He remains the Good Shepherd. Though we wander, He receives us back gladly and willingly pardons His wayward sheep. Why would we ever leave such a loving Guide? Most likely you have never made a conscious decision to forsake the Father; instead, you may have slipped away slowly and subtly as a result of wandering desires and selfish attempts to meet your own needs. But when you strive to attain comfort and safety apart from God, you stray farther and farther away from Him.
Luke 15 presents a wonderful picture of the warm reception awaiting a lost “sheep.” Did the shepherd scold or punish the wayward lamb? No. Instead, all of heaven celebrated because the lost had been found. Likewise, heaven rejoices when a wandering child of God returns “to the fold.” Jesus tells us, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
In restoring our souls, God is more than a pardoning Shepherd. He is also a providing Shepherd. He knows what we need before we even ask, and He delights in meeting our needs (Matt. 7:9–11). That means He knows what you need physically, emotionally, and spiritually, right now. In fact, He is already at work, accomplishing and providing the things you need, even though you may not even have thought of them yet.
Finally, God is our protecting Shepherd. What comforts the psalmist in Psalm 23:4? It is the Lord’s rod and staff. Ancient shepherds used these tools to defend their sheep from vicious animals seeking a quick meal. In the same way, God moves before us, clearing the way of the enemy’s snares.
Have you experienced God’s provision, only to fall into subsequent doubt and fear because of loss or hardship? God has not left you. He remains your Good Shepherd, leading you through the darkness and into the light. It is there in His presence that He will pardon, provide for, and protect you. Always.
Taken from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible