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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 23:6’

 

In spite of sunny spring weather that day, I sat in misery in the middle of the bedroom floor. Around me was strewn bubble wrap, packing-tape, and a bunch of stuff to be cocooned, before stashing it all into Moving Box #78,493. (Does extreme exaggeration make clear my frustration and exhaustion with the whole process?)

Some weeks before, the district superintendent of our church denomination had informed us my pastor-husband was being assigned elsewhere. After five years of living and working with the current loving congregation, our time together would soon end.

I wasn’t ready to move.  We’d become as close as family to many in that church, as we met in small groups, sang in the choir, served one another and the community, and got together just for the fun of it.

I was homesick before I’d even left.

While wrapping and packing, I listened to song writer/vocalist/pianist, Ken Medema, on our tape player. His song about Moses talking with God at the burning bush was a favorite, and as it began, I listened more closely.  (Click below to enjoy this distinctive song.)

 

 

What’s that in your hand, Moses?” 

“It’s just a rod.” 

“Throw it down, Moses.”

 “Lord, don’t take my rod away from me. 

Don’t you know it’s my only security?”

 

(“Moses,” by Gebhard Fugel, c.1920)

 

Suddenly God was speaking those words to me, with slight variation:

 

What’s that in your hand, Nancy?” 

“It’s just a church.” 

“Throw it down, Nancy.”

“Lord, don’t take my church away from me. 

Don’t you know it’s my only security?”

 

Tears filled my eyes as I realized, our church home had become my dwelling place of security. I was certain we’d never again find such a caring, supportive faith-family.

Now, decades removed from that morning I know: places—not even wonderful churches (and we served in four more)–can provide perfect security forever.

There is only One who can offer eternal refuge. God alone.

Home is a Person.

He is our dwelling place (Psalm 90:1). And just as a home requires a foundation, roof, and walls, so God provides these elements for us in the spiritual realm.

 

 

As our foundation, God offers:

  • Strength.

Nothing I face will stymie or overpower him (Psalm 147:5).

  • Reliability.

I’ve lived a long time. So far God’s track record for getting me through tough times has been 100%*. That’s reliable.

  • Promises.

I can trust him to keep his word based on the perfection of his character (Psalm 145:13).

  • Power.

All the universe is under God’s control, yet he tends the small matters too (Psalm 8:3-4)–like mending the broken heart of a young pastor’s wife.

 

 

As our roof, God offers shelter and protection (Psalm 5:11).

Not that we’re immune to danger, difficulty, or pain, but by God’s strength we’re able to bear it (Philippians 4:13).

 

As the walls around us, God provides a barrier of love (Psalm 32:10) and a guard of grace**.

“All shall be well,” wrote Julian of Norwich. “There is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.”

Praise God for such expansive love (Psalm 103:11).

 

 

That morning long ago, amidst the bubble wrap and boxes, I surrendered as best I could my tight hold on that church. Instead of trying to fight my fears alone, I asked God to strengthen my trust in him.

And that’s the kind of prayer God always answers “YES.”

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

I praise you, Heavenly Father,

for watching over me all the days of my life.

Thank you for your loving guidance,

training me to live by faith in your wise sovereignty

and rely on your strength to endure.

Help me hold fast to the truth

that you have my best interest at heart—

now and forever.

 

(Psalm 23:6; Psalm 25:5; Psalm 103:19; Psalm 46:1-2; Romans 8:28)

 

 

* A similar sentiment found on Pinterest, no author name provided.

** “Guard of grace,” a Charles Spurgeon phrase.

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com; http://www.vimeo.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2), http://www.dailyverse.net; http://www.wikimedia.com.)

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(Granddaughter #3, Maarit Anne*, was born on Sunday, January 15.)

 

Creator of Maarit Anne and Heavenly Father of us all,

We praise you for this precious gift of new life—

A delightful reward from your gracious hand of love.

Already she is a blessing as we cuddle her tiny form,

Caress her downy head, and kiss her soft cheeks.

 

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We marvel how you wove together so many disparate parts

To create this unique little person,

Evident in her distinctive collection of family traits:

Mommy’s dark hair and Daddy’s brow line,

Auntie Heather’s long, slender fingers, and

Grandpa Terry’s narrow feet.

In more ways yet to be revealed Maarit is an exemplification

Of your exquisite workmanship—

a heavenly piece of poetry—

in mind, body, soul, and spirit.

 

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We praise you for the perfect life-course

You’ve already planned for Maarit—

A future gleaming with hope because

You’ve set her apart and equipped her

For special purpose to accomplish your good works.

 

May her eyes be drawn to you and your Word,

The wondrous splendors of your creation,

And the signs of your love all around her.

May Maarit’s mouth be filled with praise,

Declaring your glory all day long.

May her ears be quick to hear your voice,

And her heart be delighted to respond.

 

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May Maarit’s spirit grow strong

In the loving care and nurture of Jesus.

May she wear your instruction

As a garland of praise.

 

Give to all who love and care for Maarit

The wisdom and grace to guide her in all your ways.

Protect and provide for her all the days

You’ve ordained for her.

 

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These things we ask for our Maarit Anne

In the Name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

(Psalm 127:3, 139:15; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 119:18; Jeremiah 1:5, 29:11;

Psalm 71:8; Proverbs 23:12; Psalm 119:35; Proverbs 1:9; Psalm 139:16, Psalm 23:6.)

 

*Maar (rhymes with bar)-it is a Finnish name, meaning “pearl,” in honor of our daughter-in-law’s Finnish heritage on her mother’s side. Maarit’s middle name was given in honor of Hilja’s grandmother–and me, a delightful, humbling surprise.

 

Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest (3), http://www.ourdailyblossom.com.

 

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“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Sound familiar? That’s the last verse of Psalm 23.

It turned up somewhere in my reading this week.  Can’t remember exactly where.

But I do remember thinking, Wait a minute.  Follow?  Why didn’t David say, “Surely goodness and mercy are with me?”  It doesn’t seem very helpful to have God’s goodness and mercy behind me.

After all these years of familiarity with this beloved psalm, I was suddenly quite puzzled.  What could David’s statement mean?

I started with the dictionary.  Did you know there are twelve different meanings for the verb,  follow?  Several of the definitions opened up new understanding for me.  See what you think:

1.  Follow means to be the result of, as in, “A discussion followed the presentation.”

God’s goodness and mercy are the result of availing ourselves of his shepherding, his watchful care and wise guidance (vs. 1-3).  We don’t have to beg for his loving kindness; it is automatically bestowed as we trust in God.  Isn’t that glorious?

“Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like you” (Psalm 71:19)?

But.   If we take a pass on his leadership, we have no right to expect his blessing.

2.  Follow means to keep to or stick to, as in “Follow these guidelines.”

The Bible scholars of GOD’S WORD Translation must have embraced this definition. “God’s goodness and mercy will stay close to me,” they wrote.  One commentator said these attributes of God cling to us.  I like that, too.

3.  Follow means to pursue, to move behind with the intention of overtaking as in “The detectives followed the suspect.”

Isn’t that wonderful imagery, of God pursuing us with his goodness and mercy and never giving up?

Those translators who have chosen stay close to me, or pursue, do enlighten our understanding.  But one truth of David’s statement is best served with the more familiar verb, follow:  We often don’t see God’s goodness and mercy until the experience has passed.  It’s in looking back we see that he did pursue us and cling to us, lavishly imparting all his attributes.

For example, ever have one of those weeks when the to-do list is long, and there seems no way to accomplish it all?  I’ve seen God engineer circumstances so that an item or two could be postponed, another one or two are cancelled, and a few don’t take as long as expected.  One way or another, the list of tasks is checked off. And with a sigh of relief I look back and realize God had been following me, taking care of things as the week progressed.

“He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth” (Daniel 6:27).  Even for one woman with too much to do.

Every time God demonstrates his close attention, I try to record the incident in my blessings journal.  Watching that list grow has increased my faith; all the experiences have taught me I can continue to trust.   The goodness and mercy of God will follow me all the days of my life.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Father, I marvel to think your continual presence is close to me.  I can turn to you at any moment and you are there, ready and waiting to minister to my needs. Out of your goodness you give me countless blessings that I don’t deserve; out of your mercy you have withheld consequences for my sin that I do deserve.  Thank you for pursuing me with patience, gentleness, and compassion. 

Now may I be passionate to follow you, all the remaining days of my life.  “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  How glorious to know that, even while living on earth, I can dwell in your presence within my spirit.  I rejoice in your name all day long and exult in your righteousness, for you are my glory and strength (Psalm 89:16-17)!

(Photo credit:  http://ourdailyblossom.com.)

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