“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Ps 23:3 (NKJV)
When I got my first car, I looked at this magnificent stallion of a motor parked on my parents’ drive. What a car! 1100cc, gleaming white with an engine that sounded like the roar of a lion. In my eyes this was a Ferrari, Porsche and Mercedes all rolled into one. The reality was that it was a clapped-out Mark II Ford Escort that was not in great condition and past its best days. For me, however, it meant freedom and made me a babe magnet (not quite!). So, my wonderful Dad took that car, stripped down the engine, cleaned it, refreshed it and bit by bit transformed it into a reliable and worthy vehicle. Not quite Ferrari but good enough for me. Thanks Dad!
Dad restored my Ford Escort, but God is the great restorer. When we first come to Him, we are filthy in our sin and unfit for special purposes. In Jesus we become a new creation; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). He takes the clapped-out state of our souls and restores them through the washing of the blood of Christ. Our past forgiven, our shame gone we’re given a clean slate. “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) We’re now road-worthy and, like my restored Ford, it means freedom; “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Sadly, some Christians stop there but there is little point in a restored Ford Escort that just sits on the drive going nowhere. The second part of this verse makes it clear that we are on a journey. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness”. We are being called to sanctification. The work of the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of Jesus and that is a continuing work until we die. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The paths are plural because we don’t get to pick and choose but instead must obey all of God’s commands. The Shepherd doesn’t leave us in the state we were found on the day of our salvation but continues His work in us. We are saved, are being saved and will be saved when we cross the finish line following Jesus.
As we are changed, the purpose is “for His name’s sake”. The transformation as we become more like Jesus is simply so that He gets more glory. I look back and I see how the Lord has led me in his paths, changing me in how I speak; dealing with stubborn pride, helping me love my wife better and teaching me generosity. I realise every day that I need him to lead me. Without his leading, I know I would give in easily to my naturally selfish ways. It is hard sometimes to follow His lead, but the prize is that Jesus is glorified and we can be entrusted to serve Him more.
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:21)
• Commit verse 3 to memory and recite verses 1-3.
• Thank God again for your salvation, remembering how He has given you new life. What areas of your life need to be submitted for restoration? Write them down and commit them to God asking Him to help you change. Remember it’s God power not willpower!