After my terrible horrible no good very bad day on Tuesday after an accumulation of trials and difficulties from the previous week, and then on Wednesday finding out my son probably had the swine flu (eh hem, that would be the N1H1 flu/virus - oh whatever), things started to shift in the heavenlies. I won't go into all the details, BUT God's kind hand of provision has faithfully been shown to me yet again. Not once, but twice, as if the first means he brought along wasn't wonderful enough (think financially rescued for a whole month), he met yet a second need. You see I am in a pickle these days, and just yesterday, I had $30 for food to last me and four boys for 10 days. That certainly wasn't going to work. WELL, I am happy to say, God sent a lovely gift to me last night. A knock on the door and a lovely gift card to my favorite local market, Trader Joe's. How perfectly cool was that? Double provision. I was quite tickled I must say. So I found myself saying, bring it on!! Ha ha, when days prior I was laughing at all the calamity in my life, saying bring it on! Hee hee, God is too good like that. He loves to show me that He's got me covered. More than just covered actually, he has me so that I have not any want. Think about that! I am not in want - if only I could live in that and if only my emotions would let me believe this!
Much like the psalmist writes in Psalm 23 - I feel as though I have lived in that Psalm this very week. And I now really can see that I have no want in Him. I love that! I was weary this week and He came and showed me the reality of the truth of this very Psalm.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
It's so cool how the word is like a diamond, and when you look at it again and again you see it in a different light. Well just this morning I was again thinking about how I have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, more like a valley with dark clouds all around me and no light coming through. I know I said this before, but I really do take great comfort that I am walking through, and that He is ever with me. It's like I really can face everything that comes my way, I really don't have to fear. I can rest in the midst of the difficulties. I really can. I may grow tired and weary and 'feel' overwhelmed, but know in my spirit I am in wonderful hands no matter what.
I always used to think of the 'rod' as a implement to inflict pain. However the shepherd's rod is used to protect the sheep, not inflict pain. How does having pain inflicted comfort one?? Anyway, I realized today, as I contemplated this Psalm, and light bulbs came on and a much richer fuller depth of meaning and impact came over me - the rod was used to protect and guide the sheep. The Hebrew word for rod that is used is "shabat." A shabat is specifically the rod used by a shepherd in caring for sheep. The shabat has five common practical uses: 1) it is the symbol of the shepherd's guardianship of the sheep; 2) it can be thrown with great accuracy just beyond the wandering sheep to send the animal scurrying back to the flock; 3) the shabat can be used to ward off an intruder and protect the sheep from any animals which may attack; 4) the sheep are counted as they "pass under the rod;" 5) it is used to part the wool in order to examine the sheep for disease, wounds or defects which may be treated. There is no evidence that the rod is ever used to physically strike the sheep. That lines up with the God I now know. The God of comfort. Yes, that comforts me to know. Okay, so not only is He with me, He is armed and ready to protect me. I love knowing that. Sometimes, I feel so separate from Him in a way I don't know His ways and what He will do. But I am never separated from Him, never! He always goes after His sheep to keep them safe and cared for.
I also thought about how cool it is, that He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. I may have opposition in my life in various forms, but He is saying to me, here come and sit and rest and let me serve you a feast. He is not phased one bit by my enemies.
I know what it is like when he makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters, because truly he has restored my soul time and time again. But listen to the next line,I just can't get over this - "He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name's sake." He leads me!! Just like we know that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth! Even the psalmist knew this truth and he lived in the O.C. I just love the theme of this whole psalm!! He initiates, He blesses, He protects, He comforts - He does it all! We have everything!!
I am grateful for the reminder the Spirit brought to my heart, that I really have goodness and love on my side all the days of my life! I really can trust that my Good Shepherd and Daddy will care for me in every area of my life and abundantly so. I am grateful that he restored my soul today!!!