I agreed to give the message today because I have a serious problem saying no. Just ask Bart. I always seem to say Yes, which then leads to stress.
When Pastor called to ask if I would give the message for today, my “yes” came out way to easily. By now you’d think I’d know better – But I don’t . What I did know – when I said yes- is that I’d be working on this message while processing the death of my mom once again. Last week marked 7 years since her passing.
I agreed to “fill the pulpit” as PJ put it before I read the Gospel or the Scriptures for today. My decision to say stress – I mean Yes – to was affirmed when I saw Psalm 23 in the readings. Psalm 23 was one of my mother’s favorite psalms and was read at her funeral. What a great way to meditate on her life and her impact on me.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
I want many things. I want a new kitchen and cleaning service. I want a landscaped yard and someone to maintain it oh and a mudroom that would be wonderful too. Yet these desires take me away from the important fact that “The Lord is my Shepherd”. He has provided for me like the shepherd provides for the sheep. He has protected me and loved me and will continue to do so “all the days of my life”. If I live in a state of “wanting” I’ll never be satisfied. If I truly believe the Lord is my shepherd then I am free to experience his blessings in everything. My desire for a bigger kitchen is replaced with thankfulness for a kitchen. My desire for landscaping is replaced with thankfulness for my home – Bend, OR. I am blessed in so many ways, “I shall not want”.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.a
Imagine if you will my life. I am a mother of two young children, a spouse and a trying to start a small business. Life is more than busy. I don’t do much sitting anywhere, especially besides still waters.
While I feel God’s presence while communing in nature I believe the green pastures and still waters can and need to happen in my life everyday. This verse reminds me of a quote from a kids movie of all things. Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery and Today is a gift: that’s why we call it – The Present.”
Rest will always be hard to come by while trying to fulfill the desires and devices of my heart. While I may not feel I have the time to walk with a friend or play Legos with my kids when I do stop and give others my time and attention my spirit and soul are always restored. Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads me to stop and chat with a neighbor when I’m rushing out the door or the Lord guides me to talk to a stranger in the grocery store. While my to do list for the day gets ignored; the most important things get done.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
The Lord restores everyone’s spirit in different ways. For Bart his spirit is restored when he’s out playing in nature. I find my spirit is filled when I’m on the dance floor. Going to see live music and dancing with reckless abandon is where my soul is restored. The Lord has given me an energy and excitement for live music and for dancing with others. I feel overjoyed while dancing and sharing my energy for others. I’m so happy on the dance floor I’m making a t-shirt. I dance for Jesus.
Psalm 23 v4
4Even 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.
There has been one time in my life where I have felt complete darkness and despair. April 21, 2008 my father called me from Mexico to tell me my mother died. I remember feeling like my world was collapsing. Up until this point she had been my Good Shepherd; she guided me, loved me and prayed for me continually. During my mourning I was lifted up by my family and her church community. They prayed for me and guided me through this dark journey. I know now that during this darkness the Lord was with me.
My father recently gave me mother’s last prayer journal. While reading it I realized how much she lived this verse. She had been ill for 6 years and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. I want to read an excerpt now.
“Lord I know if you don’t heal me on this earth you’ll heal me in heaven. And I have to trust that you will do things in your time. Of course Lord I then remember I haven’t asked for your healing. Is that my lack of faith? I say I believe you could heal me if you want to and I want to believe that. But it seems so selfish to ask for that when there are so many other people suffering so much more! But I have to trust that what you are allowing is so that you may be glorified and your power shown”.
I would not be speaking to you today if my mother was still alive. I’d still be on the other side of the valley. After her death I was drawn to the church community. Knowing this is where I would find peace. I also can’t help feeling like my mother laid down her life for us. My brother was a lost sheep before her death. My mother prayed for him often. She wrote, “And Lord please continue to work in Jay’s life to draw him near to you. I am scared to pray that because I know it is usually in or at least after difficult times that we or I feel closest to you. It scares me sometimes to think what it might take to wake him up.” Her death was his wake up call. My brother walked through the valley to find God waiting on the other side to comfort him.
5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surelyd goodness and mercye shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwellf in the house of the LORD
The Lord has prepared for me everything I need. I am but a guest at His banquet –which is my life. I have been granted an abundance of love and my cup is running over. My blessings are new each day. With my eyes on the Love and the Salvation of Jesus nothing less than goodness and mercy will follow me.
And I know with all my heart I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I am so thankful my mother instilled a faith in me as a young girl. This faith has led me this far and will lead me until the day I meet her again.
Let us pray. Dear Lord. You are the shepherd. You protect us and keep us under your loving arms. Help us to accept this Love and be Good Shepherds to those around us. Help us especially to be good shepherds to those who are not of this flock. For it is through us that they see you.