Our home has a small but lovely back yard and a wooden deck. I love the sound made when I walk across that wooden deck. Don’t know why! There are big maple trees towering overhead that offer bounteous shade and a sprinkling of autumn’s fall leaves. There’s a little table and two chairs, perfect for a quiet conversation. (We could enjoy some time together there, couldn’t we?) There’s a bench where I like to spread out my tea, my Bible, and my laptop. Here and there, flowers bloom in large pots. A rosemary bush scents the air. It’s beautiful to me.
There’s just one problem:
When on the deck, there is NO internet connection!
(Cue thunder and threatening music.)
This might not seem like a terrible turn of events, and—in the big picture—it really isn’t. But at the moment, it was.
First, I grumbled, but of course, that didn’t do any good!
Then I decided to be pro-active and tried to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the internet booster out onto the deck. Sadly, the connection lines weren’t long enough. Technologically foiled!
So I took the only option there seemed to be. I closed the laptop and just sat there–on the bench, sipping my mug of hot tea.
Have you ever felt like God just lit up His will in neon lights right in front of you?
Well, there weren’t any neon lights on the deck, and there was no special message in the Cape Cod towns written on my mug. It was Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer; it flooded my mind, especially verses 1-3:
“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.”
Last week was close to overwhelming (although I’m sure it wasn’t the “valley of the shadow of death” David writes of in verse 4 of Psalm 23). I did, however, feel like I was barely keeping my head above water. Have you had weeks like that? Not that I wish that for you, of course, but I hope you can empathize! The activities were mostly good ones, but they were numerous:
- Grocery shopping
- Meal prep
- Bible study
- Walk the dog
- Run errands
- Clean bathroom
- Paint upstairs trim
- Purchase fall plants
- Plant fall plants
- Pick up ordered items
- Help a friend
- Tutor students
- Do laundry
- Entertain friends
- Write letters
- Make phone calls
- Do Sunday school preparation and
- Clean rug (Our dog got sick on our family room rug—bring on the baking soda.)
There were some hard decisions in there, too. Throughout the week, I had prayed and prayed for direction and for peace, and I prayed that wordless cry of the soul that wells up from deep inside you, accompanied only by tears.
But this was different. There were no tears now.
I took a deep breath of fresh air.
I watched a small nuthatch at the bird feeder.
I watched a hummingbird seek out one of our last geranium blossoms.
I felt the soft breeze drift over me, gentler than cashmere,
I heard the rustling tree branches overhead.
I heard the plunk of hickory nuts falling on and rolling down our neighbor’s roof.
I smelled the sweet, complex scent of my tea. (Sloane Tea’s “Heavenly Cream”—seriously!)
I released the worry and stress I had worn like accessories, increasingly added throughout the week.
I loosened my grip on my list of self-imposed “to-do’s” and thought about what was really most important—to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and to love my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22: 34-40)
Now this isn’t brain surgery, but once I took my eyes off that list of self-determined to-do’s, I could sense the complete sufficiency of Jesus which superseded the whole list. Decisions and priorities became clear.
The Lord restored my soul.
Only then, did I come back inside, jot down some notes, and then pop back out and snap a couple photos.
Now it’s time to give my Mom a call and text a couple of college students. Then, I’ll make a second attempt at rug cleaning! The laundry, painting, and planting can wait for another time.
May the Lord restore you, too, dear friend!
For Deeper Insight. . .
I heartily encourage you to check out A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller.
It’s an eye-opening book that unpacks the 23rd Psalm in an accurate, contextual, and most meaningful way. (It is also undoubtedly one of my favorites!) It makes a wonderful gift at Easter or anytime.
It’s available in many formats. Here’s the link to read more about it and purchase it at Christian Book Distributors: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller