Every morning, at least now that summer weather has come, I take my walk early, in the cool of the morning. Before I go to my parents’ place to dispense their medication. Before I sit down at my computer to begin my writing/tutoring/revising work. Before life interrupts.
Our neighborhood has its own footbridge into our small park, which is rimmed by a creek that flows down from the mountains. The same creek runs through our back yard, but I have found my favorite spot inside the park. Under the shade of a spreading tree, I stand and think and pray and listen, mesmerized by the falling water. If only there was a park bench under this tree, I might never leave.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
When we moved to the Southeast from California, the green was shocking. I gladly traded the imagery of golden hills for lush green pastures. Refreshment, vitality, freshness. But spiritually speaking, I have all the green pastures I need everywhere I go. Even in a literal or metaphorical desert.
As humans, we tend to think the grass is greener on the other side. Their life is so easy. They have no problems. If only I had a better job. A husband. Children. Children who behave.
But the grass is no greener. Every life, every season, every situation has problems of its own. When we look longingly toward the other side, we miss the lush green grass at our own feet. The Good Shepherd says, “Look to Me. Don’t let your desire for what you don’t have rob you of the joy for what I’ve given you.”
My friend in Cluj Romania, on staff with another mission organization, had to remind me of this often. Her name was Suzie. She is now in the presence of the Lord, experiencing a pasture greener than any mind could imagine.
It’s been a little over a month since my daily regime changed along with the level of care my parents need. I’m already exhausted, emotionally more than physically. When I consider that this will continue for the rest of their lives, I know I cannot do it. Not alone. I am too weak.
But here’s the great news. Someone stronger than me can carry the burden and give me all the strength and grace that I need, each day at a time. I find myself depending on Him more than ever, and that’s a good thing.
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.
Every morning as I look at the creek, I feel calm. At peace. The creek is placid except for this one spot where the water babbles. The words of As the Deer Panteth for the Water fill my mind. I usually sing it, softly, but I sing it in Romanian, the language in which I first heard the song.
Cum doreşte cerbul apa şi izvorul cel curat.
Sure, I can pray as I drive along the highway or in a busy hospital waiting room. But to listen? Really listen? I need to stop. To be still. I need quiet. Intentional quiet. To be still and know that He is God.
In stillness, you can remember. He loves you. He is in control. He will supply all your need.
Every morning, looking at my creek, I pray that the Lord will fill me with the Holy Spirit and with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, something a wise mentor of mine, Ney Bailey, encouraged me to do. I emphasize different fruit as I pray. Love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, goodness, GENTLENESS, faithfulness, and self-control. If you know me, you know that these characteristics do not come naturally to me. At all. Many days, I blow it.
But everything my soul longs for does come, when I need it. It comes from the hands of the one who promised to provide.