Recently I read a commentary on Psalm 23. In the geography of Israel it is largely a semi desert environment, with big cracks in the earth called wadis. These wadis are dark and hold heat, even in the early morning. At times on the trails leading in and out, the light is almost non existent. During heavy rains the wadis carry the water from the nearby mountains in a flash flood, with torrents of water cascading down, overwhelming all including people or animals who could be in the bottom.
Sheep are still driven by modern day shepherds through these wadis today, because good grazing is hard to find in the desert like land. Sheep can be stuck in the mud of the bottoms where pools of water from the rains remain. The sheep is desperate for water in the heat and will disregard the mud to get at the pool, becoming trapped. It is then the shepherd who has to come and get the sheep out. Basically, these wadis are dark, hot and scary places. Wild animals lurk to pick off strays and wandering sheep. Death is a real possibility if the shepherd doesn't know what he is doing. They cannot be avoided because they have to reach better grazing land. But the sheep learn and trust the voice of the shepherd, and he guides them by known paths to safety, if they listen to him.
Jesus told his followers that His sheep know the sound of His voice, and that not one shall come loose from His grasp. What an amazing analogy! Are you stuck in a "wadi" this morning? In the mud of life, trapped by your desire to get what you thought you needed? And now it's hot and dark, and you don't know what to do?
The Shepherd is calling out to rescue you with his "rod and staff" from that sinking mud you are stuck in. That's how the ancient shepherds got the sheep out of the wadis. Listen and respond to the voice of Jesus, He said he would leave the 99 safely and go back for the One. His Rod and Staff will get you out of the muck if you let Him by answering Him.
I have been in some dark and scary places lately battling depression and anxiety. Yet I choose to call out to Jesus to get me out of the dark and hot places. Will you join me in trusting His voice? Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me! His rod and staff comfort me. What say you?