This coming Sunday I have been asked to preach at a local church, Trinity Reformed Church in Landstuhl. Seeing that it is Advent season, the pastor/elder, Brent Sadler, encouraged me to take a look at Psalms 23, with particular emphasis on verse 4. Since my 'assignment', I feverishly attacked my library. Pulling every commentary, historical background, imagery,...anything I could get my hands on just to make sure that I was not launching out on preparing this sermon in vain.
One commentator said, that this passage is the "John 3:16" of the Old Testament. I would wholeheartedly agree. Which is wonderful, but also causes some great distress. WHY you ask? Because, I have heard this passage preached 1,000 times ...quoted in movies...etc, etc. Therefore, I want to be fresh with my thinking, which could easily be recounting why this passage has been so comforting to so many.
As I labored, and even today continue in this task, I frequently get knocks on my office door for counseling or appointments. These aren't interruptions, just opportunities. Seeing 30 individuals a month, one on one, far exceeds any ministry goals that I ever dreamed.
Yet, just recently this week, as I labored over Psalms 23:4,...I prayed for insight and understanding. The knock came, right on time. The soldier very upset and overwhelmed with grief over some issues. As I began to simply categorize his problems, then set up each with a reasonable course of action solution, my heart began to pound,...I knew this soldier did not need 'just another remedy'. My mind rushed to recount the entire Psalm in my mind...would this be the solace for this soldier? I cringed,...surely not. I continued with my seemingly easy to solve method. YET, the conviction to press into the Scripture became overwhelming,...the next thing I know...I am recounting how King David had some serious problems too. He was in a world of 'dung' a lot. And the only comfort he had was in the presence of the 'Shepherd', "The Lord is my shepherd".
There in my office, I explained verse 4 as if he were my only audience for this upcoming sermon. He listened intently, seeing relief show in his face as we pressed over and over, the only hope we have is resting in the presences and person of Jesus Christ.
Bottomline: Sometimes I truly think that we really believe that our labors can only be quantified if they are recognized by the masses. That somehow, numerically, we feel appreciated. This week, I realized that the sermon this Sunday has already been preached. This time it wasn't for me, but for this lone soldier. All the exposition, and studying culminating not to 1,000's to hear or 35,000 (like Whitfield in London), but 1 soldier...in a basement office. That's Biblical Counseling.