Rss feed

Subscribe to our Signposts-only RSS feed.


Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



As a small non-profit with a big mission, we rely on the generous gifts of supporters like you to help our ministry prosper and grow.

Donate to


Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Monday, November 8

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
—Psalm 23:5


Our human journey is a tango with Loss and Gain. They will not be separated, and, therefore, we are placed in the awkward position of continually having two partners while on the dance floor of life. 

Loss takes the lead and we lose our youth, while Gain grabs us by the hand and we attain adulthood. Loss pushes us out from the security of home, while Gain pulls us into the independence of being on our own. Loss steps us away from the freedom of singleness, while Gain steps us into the intimacy of marriage. Somehow we lose a daughter, but gain a son-in-law, all in the same hop and skip.

And the dance of our human journey goes on. Our lives are a continual succession of yielding to what’s next. Each time it is both a yielding of sadness for what we have lost and a celebration for what we have gained.

But then there are times when the grim reality of the human journey devastates us, and the dance becomes unbearable. We encounter catastrophic and irreversible loss that no gain can balance. Terminal illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, financial collapse, depression, crushing disappointment—these are some of the violent intruders that silence the music. God’s daily dance where loss becomes gain is do-able, but we are utterly unprepared for a dance where loss ruthlessly rips everything from our lives, while offering nothing in return.

In Psalm 23 we meet our Shepherd, Jesus, who leads us in many ways. We are most familiar with our Shepherd leading us to “green pastures” and “quiet waters.” We are less familiar with our Shepherd arranging a dinner with our enemies. Think of these “enemies” as the painful losses of your life. Perhaps you always run away from them. But now Jesus seats you directly across the table, requiring you to look Loss square in the face.

Jesus turns to you with tender eyes, knowing your inner turmoil, and reassures you that you have been seated at a table of safety. There before you are the people, places and things associated with your deepest hurts. Jesus unmasks the powerlessness of these wounds and instructs you to face them. So totally present to your pain, you feel a lone tear become streams of sadness from the ache deep inside.

You are intensely aware of Jesus’ presence. No words are spoken, but just his being there, wiping away your tears, touches those places of deep pain. Suddenly the eyes of your heart are opened and for the first time you see in Jesus’ face a God who knows and shares your hurt. 

He anoints your head with the oil of liberation; you have been set free from the power of your losses. The shepherd announces you are free to dismiss yourself from the table whenever you choose. Though an ache of sadness remains, something is distinctly different. Your hurts no longer have the power to control and destroy you. Maybe he was leading you to green pastures after all.

Thank you, God, that I can be free from the power of my hurts.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.