Fairfield Indiana is on the Brookville Lake in Franklin County Indiana located about 40 minutes north of Cincinnati.  It also happens to be where my parents live.  Fairfield was a quaint little town in Southern Indiana that time forgot and has no obit as well.  You see, in 1932 there was a statewide flood that demolished little towns like Fairfield.  They had a town hall, a service station, a school, a hotel, park, a dump, two grocery stores (right next to one another), and a Methodist Church.  If you liked a girl in Fairfield but she didn’t want you, you had to go to Laurel, because to one of their own’s admission, no one was good enough for Brookville which became the county seat after Fairfield lost it’s bidding because of some push over politicking.  One local, said in a surly tone that, “We’re happy for them.”

It was a town of around 560 people in 1932 and it’s said that nothing ever good came out of Fairfield.  Fairfield was in a valley and the only road in or out went through a covered bridge.  After the flood 150 or so people left for good until another flood came through called World War 2.  FDR started a campaign trying to get America out of the great depression pumping government money into repairing waterways and causeways encouraging everyone one on the state level to create more and better reservoirs to help townships and cities to be more self-sufficient.  It didn’t look good for Fairfield seeing that the valley they were in held a natural levy that kept the town from being totally submerged under water.

The inevitable happened in 1965 when the town was flooded again which made for it to be nearly a total loss.  The government decided it was time to end this issue and a buy out was offered to people for their homes.  While the old people held out for a better offer it never came.  A few hid out in the hills until 1970 when a some precise bombing let out the waters of the Brookville Lake burying Fairfield for good.  Sounds like it would make a good movie doesn’t it?  Fairfield Indiana has a dedicated few that have started a little website with “A link to Brookville, more than they would do for us.”  Some locals say that the Brookville Lake should really be the Fairfield Lake.

Even though Fairfield was only a town for a little over a century it still bears a mark in the hearts of school children, farmers, sweethearts, and shop owners.  We all have a “Fairfield” in our lives.  Oh we try to act like it was never there but there are deep valley experiences in life that we cannot deny.

Psalm 23 says:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Two weeks ago at New Hope we asked the question if you could honestly say that “The Lord is my Shepherd”.  “If we don’t have the Great Shepherd as our shepherd our lives end up with us calling the shots. Its not a good idea! We will end up saying the 23rd of Psalms our own way. That’s not good either… It will sound something like this:  I am my own shepherd, I am always in need.  I stumble from mall to mall and shrink to shrink, seeking relief but never finding it.  I creep through the valley of death and fall apart.  I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I’m starting to act like my mother.  I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am surrounded by my enemies. I go home and even the goldfish scowls at me.  I anoint my headache with extra strength Tylenol.  My Jack Daniels runneth over.  Surely misery and misfortune will follow me and I will live in self doubt for the rest of my lonely life.  Why is it the ones who most need a shepherd resist Him so?”  (From traveling Light by Max Lucado) 

You can break Psalm 23 into two parts.  Verses 1-3 address God in third person.  “He leads me…”, “He restores…”  There’s a switch from third to second person at verse 4 and stays true through the rest of the chapter.  “Your rod and staff…”, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Why does this bear any significance?

Because We talk ABOUT the Shepherd in the pasture and talk TO the shepherd in the valley.

David spent a lot of his years as a shepherd.  He knew that God was an experienced and competent shepherd.  He knew that a good shepherd must choose, especially in rough terrain, the direct, and yet least rugged track, some straight and safe path.  The word “righteousness” suggests moral and religious behavior, but some say it is a physical meaning of directness and simplicity.  Like a competent shepherd, God is a model of fairness and fidelity.

In other words, we can’t take short-cuts on the paths of righteousness, but God is the Lord of the path.  As long as we follow God’s leading we can be assured that He will take the best route for us.  Whatever you are going through right now just be confident that your heavenly Father will never leave you or forsake you.