The 23rd Psalm has always been one of my favorite passages, but it wasn’t until a recent devotion that I picked up on a vital message I had previously overlooked.
I’m a TYPE-A in recovery, although some might say I missed the “recovery” part. I have historically kept many more balls in the air than I was created to juggle. My psyche apparently had to prove something to someone, and in order to make the point I had to stay busy.
As I write this, I’m nine days shy of my 66th birthday and have thankfully slowed down – a bit. This passage, however, speaks to me to slow down more often than I presently do, and with good reason to do so.
The first three verses read (NIV – New International Version):
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul.
Did you catch the word “makes” in verse 2? I’d never really gotten that before. He makes us lie down; we are compelled to lie down so that we can rest. So that we can be still. So that we can lean into God and receive the gifts He has for us.
Can you see that? Can you feel that? Can you allow yourself to rest in the Lord and be filled with whatever it is you need to be the person He created you to be?
I pray you can. I pray I can. O, my friends, what joy there is in the Lord if we are just still and quiet long enough.
The last day of 2018 – wow. What a year it has been!! Ups/downs, victories/challenges, health/illness, happiness/sadness – and through it all GOD.
All of us encounter the good and the bad as we travel this thing we call life. I’ve learned it’s not so much what we encounter, but how we react to what we encounter that matters.
That’s why I use water and boats on my site, because how we steer our boats (how we react to the storms on our sea of life) will always determine our journey.
Many years ago Isaiah 40:28-31 was the Scripture in the devotional book I was using at the time. I don’t remember the exact date, but I know it was sometime between March 1981 and August 1983. It was a Saturday evening, and being the mom of two small children, I had retired to the bathroom (I was desperate) for peace and quiet to have my devotion.
As I read the Scripture, I prayed God would make it come alive to me. The very next morning, our pastor preached on this very passage!! And for the first time these verses resonated with me in a way they never had.
Dr. Edward Carney said that God will help us through, over or around whatever it is we face. He said sometimes God carries us. He changed my life that day with those words.
I’ve experienced many trials in the years since I heard that sermon, and never – never once, has God let me down. Through it all, God is right beside me, running, walking, soaring, and carrying me.
My prayer for you is that you embrace this Scripture. It will change your life.
The other day I happened to see a baby bird jump out of the nest mama bird had made in one of my hanging baskets. He had what I describe as a “what the heck” look on his little face as he wobbled around on the table where I’d set the basket earlier. He made no attempt to fly. I checked back a little later, and he was back in the nest.
The next day I saw him hop out of the basket again. This time he wobbled less and before I could grab my camera he flew away.
I can’t help but compare that to when we humans begin to spread our own wings and test the areas around us. We crawl around on our hands and knees, or in my case on our hands and feet. (NOTE: That began my doing it harder than it has to be journey. More on that later.)
After several weeks/months of crawling we progress to the next step – walking. We wobble like the baby bird until we get our sea legs, and then it is off to the races – much to our parents’ dismay as we begin to explore and get into EVERYTHING.
Even as older children, teens and even adults, we tentatively try new things getting our bearings and our footing before we actually set out. Our missteps and our failures, like the baby bird’s first attempt, only make us stronger and better prepared for when we actually fly.
Failures/missteps are not meant to stop us nor impede our progress. Their purpose is to strengthen us and shore up our determination to move forward; to obtain our goals; to be who we are intended to be; and to do what we are intended to do.
So, the next time you fail or feel like a failure, get back up and try again like baby bird. Wobble and wobble until you take flight, and soar to heights unknown – in your own time, in your own way.
The hymn “It is Well with My Soul” has always touched my heart from the first moment I was old enough to grasp its meaning. The words were written by Horatio G. Spafford in 1873 as he passed over the area in the Atlantic where all four of his daughters had drowned after the ship they were on collided with another vessel.
What a testimony to his faith that no matter what happened in his life, it was well with his soul. He’s shared that faith with all of us.
Our lives take many twists and turns, and many of those are tragic events. Yet, through it all, our faith can and should remain strong and unaffected by outside events.
My best friend, Iris Mills Donehoo Broadbent was a living testament to that in much the same way as Mr. Spafford. “It is Well with My Soul” was not only her favorite hymn, it was also her mantra.
When she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s she never once asked “why me?”. She never once complained that this was her lot.
As I visited with her just months before that awful disease would take her from us, she said to me: “Deb, sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t know my name.” After a slight pause, she continued: “But God knows my name.” Indeed, sweet Iris, God knows your name.
God knows all our names, the numbers of hairs we each have on our heads, the pains and the traumas we face – God knows all! God cares, God loves, God works behind the scenes always for our good.
Regardless of what you’re going through, and what might be around the bend for you, know that “it IS well with your soul” because the God of Creation has your back.
I’ve been in church since I was two weeks old. Yes, you read that right, TWO weeks old. That said, I’ve heard about praying my entire life. I listened to prayers in church, Sunday School, and other venues, and I’ve heard stories of amazing answers to prayers.
Have you noticed that most of the time, the “answered” prayer stories are the ones where the person received what he/she had asked for? It seems we rarely hear about the “unanswered” prayers.
It wasn’t until I was 20 years old and sitting in the funeral home after the death of a family member that I understood about the “unanswered” prayers – which is really the threeanswersto prayer.
A friend was comforting me, and I said to her, “God didn’t answer my prayer for her to live.” My friend gently and lovingly said, “Debi, God has three answers – yes, no, and wait. For this prayer, God has said no.” That one comment changed my prayer life forever.
God is God, and we are not. God sees and knows the big picture. God knows what we truly need, and regardless of what is happening in our lives, God is working in the background for our good. So the next time you pray and don’t receive the answer you wanted, remember this – God has your back and is working in your life always!
We’ve all heard the old saying “look for the silver lining”, but most of the time when we’re in whatever mess we’re in it’s hard to imagine, much less look for or see, “the silver lining”.
Recently, we had to change our home phone number because someone cloned it and was robo-dialing people using it. As I made call after call alerting all the doctor’s offices, insurance companies, banks, the pharmacy, and countless other entities that use and require our phone number, I was getting madder than a wet hen (as we say in the South).
It wasn’t until much later that evening as I was lying in bed that I realized there was not one, but TWO silver linings. The first was that, after repeating it 50,000 times, I’d memorized our new number! And the second was that we would no longer receive calls from the creditors of the disrespectful relative who continually opened accounts, listed our phone number in the contact area, and then just didn’t make the payments!!
The hassle of a new phone number in no way compares with some of the major issues we face in life. Being aware that even in the worst of times there IS a silver lining, may help all of us to weather the storms of life.
The ultimate silver lining in my life is God. That’s why I chose the picture I did for this blog. Do you see not only God’s light/love in the sky, but also in the dark waters of the Santa Rosa Sound? THAT is my silver lining! THAT is the silver lining available to all that will invite and accept God into their lives. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, God is the constant, the One who continues to shine and work in the background loving us all the while. God is our Silver Lining.
See you next time…
The above picture was taken by my cousin, Grace Barrington Niederlehner.