The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23:1-2, KJV)
To put it crassly, my family of origin was crazy. I dealt with the craziness by becoming a psychiatric patient. My sister dealt with it by becoming a psychiatric nurse.
One of the programs she has worked for was known as a Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). Her job essentially entails getting people like me to do things that are good for them but that they’d rather not do. Things like:
• take medications regularly (even when they’re enjoying a manic high).
• ask for help for services from people who are either annoyed by or afraid of them.
• get out in public when they’d much rather stay inside where they feel much safer.
Now, I don’t want to suggest that my sister is God but, like God, she has to “shepherd” in such ways that soothe troubled spirits (beside still waters) and produce nourishing results (lie down in green pastures). As a person with bipolar, I know I can be a pretty stubborn sheep and, as the Psalmist later contends, I need the firmness of a rod and staff (metaphorically, if not physically) to bring comfort. Like God, my sister pursues people like me with “goodness and mercy” for as long as she can hoping and praying that they’ll turn around and seek good health and well-being themselves.
Then and only then can we rest secure that we will “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6) When we internalize God’s good law, when it is written in our hearts, we can function on a daily basis for our own good and for the glory of God.