Once upon a time, there was a very successful businessman. He grew up in the worst kind of poverty imaginable, but he went on to become very successful and very wealthy and very connected all around the world. He owned a castle about an hour outside of London, but he never went to the castle because he was too busy. So one summer he decided to have a party, hold a party at the castle. And he invited 600 guests. And the guest list was like a who's who list of the whole world, Every type of celebrity and famed personality on the planet was on the guest list. But sprinkled among them was about a dozen, very average normal people who were the childhood friends of the host. And on the evening of the party, the castle looked absolutely brilliant, was lit up with all these flames and the guests arrived and they were ushered into this enormous ancient banquet hall where they were served the most exquisite meal with the finest wines.
And after dinner, but before dessert, the host stood up and welcomed his guests and thanked his guests for coming and announced that instead of dancing or music on this particular evening, for this particular party, for entertainment, he had chosen to invite one of England's premier Shakespearean actors to present a series of excerpts from the writings of William Shakespeare. And with that, the actor stood up to thunderous applause and began to present one after another, just these brilliant passages from the writings of Shakespeare.
And after each excerpt, the audience just erupted in applause. And the applause echoed up off these stone walls, up through the castle and out into the courtyards. After about 20 minutes, the actor announced that he was finished, but if anybody had any special requests, he would be happy to present them. Favorite passages from Shakespeare, if he knew them. And one man raised his hand and requested the soliloquy for Macbeth. And the actor presented it absolutely flawlessly. And again, the place erupted in applause. A woman raised her hand and requested the 14th Sonnet. And he presented that powerfully. Another woman raised her hand and requested the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. And he presented that brilliantly. Each time, the place erupting in applause.
And then an old man way down the back of the banquet hall, raised his hand. As it turned out, the old man was a priest, a childhood friend of the host. And the old priest said to the actor, he said, "Sir, I realize it's not Shakespeare, but I was wondering, could you present for us the 23rd Psalm?" The actor smiled. He said, "Father, when I was in fourth grade, sister Mary made us all learn the 23rd Psalm by heart. And every morning, one student was elected to come to the front of the classroom and recite the Psalm for the whole class. And I would be happy to recite the Psalm, I just have one condition." Priest was little taken back. He wasn't expecting conditions. He inquired of the actor what his condition was. And the actor said, "I will recite the Psalm, if when I'm finished, you will recite the Psalm for all of us here tonight.
The priest was really taken aback now. But he very much wanted to hear the actor recite the Psalm. And so reluctantly, he agreed. And with that, the actor began. "The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want."
And when the actor finished, the place erupted. The people clapped and they cheered and they stood like they would never stop clapping and cheering. When they did finally settle down, the actor looked back down towards the old priest and he said, "Father, it's your turn now." The old priest stood up in his place and he fidgeted with the tablecloth in front of him. And then he began in a firm, but deeply reflective voice. "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He lets me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides peaceful waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I'll not be afraid, for the Lord, he is at my side. He's rod and his staff, they comfort and protect me. He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will live in the house of the Lord forever."
And when the priest finished, nobody clapped, nobody spoke, nobody moved. It was as if the old priest had mesmerized them. Seizing the moment, the actor, he stood back up and he said to the people, "Do you realize what you've witnessed here tonight?" The people just looked at him. He said, "I'll tell you." He said, "My whole life, I've known the Psalm, but why was the priest so much more powerful? My whole life I've known the Psalm. There's no question, I know the Psalm. But father, he knows the shepherd."
If you do nothing else with your life, get to know the shepherd. I'm not kidding now. If you do nothing else with your life, get to know the shepherd. How well do you know the shepherd? Give a score between one and 10, give yourself a score between one and 10. How well do you know the shepherd? Change that score. Get to know the shepherd. If you do nothing else with your life, get to know the shepherd, because he will help you discover that deep, deep place within you and live from that deep place. He will lead you to green pastures. He will restore your soul. He will lead you to living waters. He will walk with you in the valley of the shadow of death. He will anoint your head with oil. He will protect you from your enemies and your cup will overflow. Get to know the shepherd.
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