“He Restores My Soul”

IMG_3198.jpgOur 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.

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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:

  • Work
  • 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 sat.

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. . .

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Mass Market Edition - By: W. Phillip Keller 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 

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This is the Day!

This is the Day. More specifically, “This is the Day that the Lord has made.” I woke up this morning with that song in my head. “This is the Day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” The words of Psalm 118:24. It filled my head in the shower and, once out, I hummed along with blow dryer accompaniment. Later, I moved a load of towels into the dryer and they rolled and thumped along like a band.

Then I walked into the dining room.

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This is the day that the Lord has made??

I will rejoice and be glad in it??

Do you see this dining room table????

On one surface are items to be returned to a store, items that need a home, paint color swatches, paint color samples, a mirror, a book, a bowl, photographs–suffice it to say–A LOT. And that’s only the dining room table! Just multiply that by at least three surfaces in every room. PLEASE tell me you periodically have surfaces like this!

But this is the day that the Lord has made. I will remember that.

(To be honest, the paint color samples have substantially narrowed down.)

THIS IS the day that the Lord has made.

(I will praise Him and pray first; the world won’t end if the dining room table isn’t clear by sundown–and if it does, it won’t matter!)

This is the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice.

(I will rejoice even amid mess and teetering objects, spilled juice, and transitory clutter. David wrote this psalm after being under intensely stressful circumstances, praying to God, and then receiving help from Him. “They surrounded me like bees,” he writes. “They went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me” ~ verses 12 and 13.)

Ever felt surrounded by bees? (Or a swarm of disorganized chaos?) Ever felt pushed hard? (Or pulled in eight different directions?) Ever felt like you were falling? (Or overwhelmed and uncertain?) But when we pray, the Lord does help us, doesn’t He?

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and BE GLAD in it!

(“I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” ~ verses 21-23. 

Let’s zoom into the New Testament and read more about this image of a rejected cornerstone. Acts 4:10-12 holds the key: “Let it be known to all of you…Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Whatever our situation, whatever our circumstances, whatever our surroundings: “THIS IS the day that the Lord has made. LET US REJOICE and BE GLAD in it” ~ verse 24.

Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of our salvation.

Now, let’s cut off those swarms of bees in the name of the Lord!

Let’s push hard, relying on the Lord’s help!

Let’s rejoice and be glad in our salvation!