On vacation, God gave me Psalm 23. He brought it to the surface of my spiritual consciousness and revealed the pulsating life within the message. Every word of it is our’s if our hearts receive it. Every single word. If anyone out there has forgotten that you are in the palm of God’s hand, join me in remembering that not only are we secure in his fold, but that He is secure in our’s.
He is my Shepherd, caretaker of my soul. He provides. I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He feeds my soul, not my stomach. He gives me Rest, not fortune. He knows what I really need, not what I think I want. And in his pastures and waters my spiritual eyes are finally opened to his shimmering beauty and steadfast provision.
He restores my soul and leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He puts me back together – the fragmented pieces of my true self he sees, honors, heals and brings to himself. He doesn’t leave me to figure out the right path by myself, but takes me by the hand and leads me to the place where I not only please him but find pleasure in Him.
And the hard part – when I walk through darkness so thick it terrorizes all parts of me, He draws my eyes to his radiant face and shows me with His tender eyes, there is nothing to fear when I hold fast to Him. Even the darkness is as light to Him. Although His presence is sometimes hidden from the finite vision of our humanity, He is forever with me. 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. Your leadership and discipline and guidance are no longer a burden, but a blessing. Your attention to every facet of who I am, every particle in need of sanctification, every thought in need of divine intervention, every hidden sin festering underneath the surface of a wayward heart, every assault on my plans and every merciful intervention in the direction of my emotions – all like wounds from a Friend. Do I envy the child who is given the kind of freedom that leads to his destruction? No! I envy the child who is loved enough to be guided, led, even punished! Oh, the kind of love that doesn’t leave us to our own follies and fears! I am loved enough to be guided, even when that Guidance is endlessly dismissed and undervalued. Your close watch no longer presses uncomfortably in on my Self-Will. It comforts me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Death and terror are not the only threats. Those who assault the truest part of me are in my midst. They are only puppets being used by forces minimized by their ignorant souls, but they affect my sense of confidence in Christ nonetheless. This aim to destabilize what is my only foundation is sadly the thing that makes them my enemies. Enemies who were even once friends, as it often goes. God knows who they are, and who they are to me. And He stands in their midst. He prepares a feast for me that boasts heavenly aromas. He is showing me that although I grow weak now there is infinite nourishment and angelic celebration awaiting me. There is no need to lose confidence in Him. He is reminding me that although I feel defeated and rejected in this world I have a place at his Banquet table, beside the Victorious King.
He anoints my head with oil. He imparts His Spirit and breathes healing power. I am not left with only my strength. I have the power of heaven behind me, pushing me forward like winds sent to carry me through the fire.
My cup overflows. Yes, in my human cup I have no water. I cannot make it rain and I cannot be Good. Exhaustion and Anxiety are the states you let me fall in so that I can know, KNOW, I cannot keep going without You. I used to say, “Dig deeper Cheri, dig deeper.!” Now I say, “Cling to Him Cheri, Cling to Him!” And when I thought I had reached the bottom, seeing the horrible end of my human strength – You came to my rescue. You lifted me from the bottom of the dry pit that was my pathetically overestimated capacity and unleashed the force of your endless power, like a desert being washed away by a rushing river. There is no mistaking that the cup that overflows is of a divine kind. The sheer volume is proof enough.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Should I have any doubt of this? I deserve pain. You give joy. I deserve wrath. You give me forgiveness. Not once, not twice, but a thousand times a day. I chase happiness and affirmation, and I always lose. You send goodness and mercy to follow me. If only I have the wisdom to turn away from the World and turn to Your gifts – how blessed would I be!
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord Forever. This life is meaningful, but it is only the beginning chapters of a Story that never ends. I dwell in time, in flesh, in a blurred world of spirit and earth. My heart, soul, mind and strength are churning together in agony as I reach for your eternal beauty. One day, I will no longer ache and groan and languish for you. I will have You. All of You for All of Time.
Amen and Amen.