I got a chance to hear Dallas Willard teach at his home church last night. It was definitely a treat in many ways. I got to hang with Ryan, whom I haven’t seen in months. I also got to go into a “real live church building,” something I haven’t done in months. Felt weird, even uncomfortable, but I’ll leave it at that. It was also cool to watch Dallas interact with people in his community that he’s obviously close with.
He taught on a bunch of stuff, but something he taught struck me and has occupied my mind all day. He taught on Psalm 23 and how this world is a perfectly safe place for us to be in God’s kingdom. Sure I will suffer. Sure I will endure difficult times. I will even encounter devastating tragedy. But since the Lord is my Shepherd, I won’t miss out on anything important. I won’t be in want.
He then walked through the rest of the Psalm to show that it’s the Shepherd that satisfies our needs, not our circumstances. The Shepherd makes the sheep lie down in green pastures. Dallas used to raise sheep. He says the only time a sheep would lie down is when its full and satisfied. In other words, in Psalm 23, the sheep is already full and doesn’t need to eat in the green pasture.
Dallas then comments on “He leads me beside quiet water.” He says sheep only drink from quiet water. Yet, the picture is the Shepherd leading the sheep beside and beyond quiet water. Again, the sheep is already so full and satisfied by the Shepherd that it doesn’t need to drink from the quiet water.
The Psalm then turns toward darker circumstances — through the valley of the shadow of death. Again, the sheep fears no evil because its joy, peace and safety are in the Shepherd, not the circumstances.
Finally, even in the midst of enemies, a rich banquet table is set. Dallas comments that we rarely want to eat in front of our enemies since our stomachs are churning. Yet, the picture is that we are so at peace in our Shepherd that we can eat in the midst of our enemies and even with our enemies.
Still thinking about it. I’d love to hear what you guys think.