Today has been a challenging day. We all have these days—days when confidence is shot, when hopelessness permeates the soul, when fatigue overwhelms the body, days when we do not sense God’s realness.
Days when one is simply goofed up. Days when I am goofed up.
In my “read through the Bible” plan today, my chapter in Psalm was Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters.
The footnote to this verse in the Literary Study Bible (ESV) explains that the Hebrew words describe the still waters as “He leads me besides waters of rest.” I like that. I like that a lot. I’ve not slept well the past couple of nights. The imagery here of “waters of rest” is a serene, beautiful picture. But when does God lead me besides these waters of rest? Does it take death to be lead there, or is there a peace that God may choose to pour out in one’s soul, so that it is plausible that one could be lead besides the waters of rest now? Even today?
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness2
for his name’s sake.
He restores my soul. My soul needs restoring. He reboots my soul. In the morning, he restores my soul. As I write out my thoughts here, I have to believe that He will restore my soul. I have to trust that He will restore my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness—-why??—–for his name’s sake. The book I am reading currently (God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgement) speaks much about this–about the importance of God’s actions being for his name’s sake. When I am lead in the paths of righteousness, it is not for my self-centered motives, but rather that God will be glorified. That’s a tough lesson to learn.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,3
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
I have friends that have literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death–of their death. I certainly do not mean to lessen the fear, pain and anxiety that they and their loved ones experience. However there is a different type of walking through the valley of the shadow of death–it’s waking up in the middle of the night disoriented. It’s driving to work with a heavy cloud of despair permeating the car. It’s grief that covers loss of family, of friends, of so much. “I will fear no evil” My heart is not quite there, I fear often. Please God help me to not fear evil. Comfort me with your rod and staff, or give me a good quick smack with them-a kick forward.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
This is a picture of hospitality, of holy hospitality. It is a rare thing to be served in this new normal of my life. For someone to prepare a table before me, to anoint my head with oil and overflow my cup. Whew. It is a picture of God serving me, anointing me, filling my cup. Not because He has to, but because He wants to.
This has been a long life. This is a long life. How do I hold on to this statement that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life? How is that possible? Mercy, yes. God grants me mercy each and every day, for which I do nothing to deserve it. Nothing. At all. Goodness? I am not sure.
I will dwell…I will love, I will make my home in the House of the Lord. I will dwell there. When one dwells, it is a much deeper connotation than just living within a space in time. To dwell is to settle. I need to settle.