The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 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 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The weather is finally warming up and it is extremely welcome. As we sit on the cusp of June, I am finding myself in the same place that I have been for the last six months, winter. I realize there is no snow on the ground anymore, I am speaking spiritually here. God has been using this season to teach me many things about myself. Things that I didn't understand and things that I didn't like very much. There were lessons about God as well, teaching me about His love and grace that He has just for me.
Over the last year, there have been circumstances that have brought me to my knees, realizing the ugly sin of pride in my life and heart. My outward tantrums that reveal my inward unbelief and pain have become visible in the spiritual mirror that God has allowed me to see. I have spent this time frustrated and feeling unsatisfied, downright angry.
I noticed that when I would wake up, there would be a constant heaviness upon me. The day would begin with thoughts of frustration and feelings of irritation. I can't truly explain what I mean other than that I would prepare to fight for a good morning. Every conversation would be on the defense, including the ones in my mind. I would pray for God to just allow me to enjoy my day or better yet, just make it through. This is crazy to me since I just let our ladies retreat concerning the topic of "Joy", but apparently, God wants to take me deeper into the lesson and reveal some unhealed territory.
During this last week, I hit an all time low. Each day seemed to get darker and more depressing than the next. I found myself barely making it through my workday and hiding away at night, dodging calls, texts and social media. I didn't quite understand where this heaviness of heart was coming from because I had just come off of an amazing weekend full of close friends and celebration, but boy did it hit.
As I was tucked away in my own pity party, feeling like God didn't truly have plans for my life, I was interrupted by a few texts and calls from friends. These friends had no idea what was happening in my life and walk, but the prompting that God placed on their hearts to reach out was truly appreciated. Once again, God was showing me how much He loved me, to reach out in the darkness, specifically to me.
Reluctantly, I went to the word and asked God for something new. Psalm 23 is the page I felt I needed to go to. I have read this so many times, even written about it, however, I really felt I needed to go there. So I prayed, "God show me something new please, I need a word". He answered that prayer and then some.
The first verse came with a lesson "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want". I googled what a shepherd was and it was described as a person who tends, herds, feeds, or guards herds of sheep. Right away I was moved. God is my shepherd. The word of God says we are His sheep. This means God tends, herds, feeds, and guards us. When I looked up the word tend, it was described as to attend as a servant or to apply oneself to the care of. Wow, that's the truth. I looked up the word "herd" the definition was to gather, lead, or drive as if in a herd. At this point, I knew He was speaking directly to my hardened heart. The Lord is my shepherd. He is the one who takes care of me, He leads me and gathers me with others so that I am not isolated. He feeds me, not only by supplying much needed food, but spiritually as well. As I sat in my dry, thirsty place, He brought life to this passage that I've read many times before. So asked God for more, and then I read on.
Four words somehow jumped off of the page like never before, "I shall not want". Um, yea, about that... God what are you saying? What shall I not want for? He has been removing my wants for a long time, how much more can I not want for? I feel that God has been toppling idols or "wants" in my life. From the want to be appreciated or liked, to the want to be in control of my finances, He has toppled every last one of them. Then I realized, that there is one more, the idol or want that I have. It is to carry my past hurts into today.
What am I talking about? I will try to explain. As I shared with you a few paragraphs ago, I led our ladies retreat and shared my story of anxiety, freedom, hope and healing. In doing this, I had to revisit some painful places in my life. Though this was part of the healing, I still allowed it to be part of my life today. Last weekend, I revisited a different part of my past. A part that revealed to me God's Sovereignty in tribulation. A part that explains how He tended to me as a young child. So to revisit so many memories that blessed me, really messed with my head. It's as if my past pain didn't know how to share the spotlight with the past blessings. I realized that I had been carrying my pain around in a backpack, so to speak, just in case I needed to pull it out on a rainy day.
I know this sounds crazy, I mean who would cut open a wound once it's healed just to feel something? Many people, actually the numbers of people who cut or self harm is on the rise. The problem is that most people who suffer from this, do it in quiet. They don't realize how the pain is not the ground we are meant to stand on. They don't realize that God wants to herd us away from that faulty ground and lead us by still waters, where we can properly heal. God showed me that I needed to live as I believe. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." If I truly believe this, then why do I carry that old Connie in a backpack? What good does it serve? Where is this disconnect that separates the old thoughts of Connie's life from the new creation, the truth? Why do I feel the need to separate the good memories from the bad, when truthfully, they are meant to work together in order to shape my future.
Let' stop here for prayer and continue later:
"Ok Lord, I just want to stop and thank You. Thank You God for loving us each individually. It seems hard to comprehend that love You have for us. How can You love so many and share that love with each of us? Then we look at the role of a shepherd. He tends, herds, feeds and guards each and every one of them. We thank You for doing the same. We thank You God for the healing, though so painful to walk through, it is necessary for joy. You provide still waters to rest by when we are overwhelmed. Thank You for this journey and please help my random thoughts to be understood. We love You Lord, and it's in Your Son's name that we pray...Amen"