As we all know, I am a slow learner. Slow. Very slow. When I was in third grade, I learned the 23rd Psalm because I had to for Sunday School. My memory was a lot better then, and I think somebody promised me gum if I learned it. Anyway, I could rattle it off and thought, even up until last week, that I knew it. Not so much.
Here's how my latest ephiphany went down. I was reading on one of my favorite blogs, owned by Dawn Wright, of Are Those Kids all Yours?, and Dawn challenged her readers to read and pray the 23rd Psalm 7 times in 1 day. I've been feeling spiritually battered, so I was all in for that one.
First prayer. I rattled off my 3rd grade memory version and should have yelled "Done" and thrown my hands in the air like a third grader because that was about the sum of it.
Next time, maybe I'm growing up, I prayed it slower. Okay, now I'm catching on. What's that first line, again? "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want." Stop. In my mind, for the last 33 years, I have heard "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. Because God doesn't have time for you wanting stuff. Don't be bothering God with what you want. You big whiner." SUPRISE!!!! Amy Root, that is not what the Lord wants you to hear. I'd been hearing that lie for 33 years partly because of the way I was raised and partly because I never stopped to really HEAR it. To pray it. This is what I hear now. "The Lord is my Shepherd. The one who watches over me. Cares for me. Tenderly loves me. The one who is awake when I sleep. The one who looks for me when I wander off and far from him. I shall not want. I shall want for nothing because he knows and anticipates my needs. Because he wants to provide me with everything I need to be healthy, truly happy and secure. He wants to give me what I need so I don't have to ask for it.
Next Line--He makes me lie down in green pastures. What I "heard" before. He makes me lay down on the ground because I am annoying and sheep like grass. Part of that really is my childish understanding, but the other part, I think somewhere in my psyche I really believed, until last week, that I was capable of annoying the Lord. Sometimes in my imperfect parenting, it is so hard to understand his perfect parenting.
Next Line--He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. What I use to hear. "There's the water sheep. Don't fall in. Drink it. Get rested up because here comes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I'm going to lead you, but remember, you'll be walking behind me. Remember, before you think how slow I am. You're right. What I hear now--"He leads me beside the still waters where it is beautiful and lovely and refreshing. My Lord knows how my focus is ever-shifting, a lot like a squirrel and not a peaceful sheep. He knows that I need rest. That I need to relax with Him, knowing he is there and focusing on my relationship with Him.
Next Line--He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake. What I use to hear---"Don't get out of line our you are not a Christian. Fear=not a Christian. Doubt=not a Christian. Disobedience=not a Christian. If you mess up you must not love Jesus. God wants you to be afraid of him. And you should be. What I hear now--"Unable to find a pathway on my own, I am guided by my Lord who loves me because of His Son Jesus. Praise Him!!!
Next Line--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 comfort me. What I use to hear. God will take me into some ugly places. One of those places I will die. God carries a big stick. In an adult Sunday School class our instructor, who seemed to really believe what he was saying, told us that the shepherd would hit the sheep with the rod and staff. He used that logic to justify whipping his kids. I never actually believed that, though. What I hear now---"There is nowhere. NOWHERE that I have to go without my God. He is always with me. My comforter. My security. My protector. His rod and staff are my protection, because, being the BEST Shepherd, he is prepared to fight anything that should attack me. And My God always wins.
Next Line--"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. What I use to hear--"You justify me in the presence of people who would make fun of me, belittle me and hurt me. You show great love and preference for me. I am blessed. Strangely enough, I think I got that part right. It just means even more to me, now.
Next Line--Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever. What I use to hear---"Goodness and Mercy might be following me, but good luck on them ever catching up. It's hard out to be a Christian. It only gets good when you're dead. What I hear now--"I am constantly wooed and pursued by God's bountiful love and blessing. I cannot get over how much he loves me--how exceeding abundantly I am blessed. And when I do die, Oh GLORY, it gets that much better FOR ETERNITY!!!!
I NEEDED to read Dawn's post. I needed to re-learn and re-love the 23rd Psalm. There have been hard days lately. The LSC that we were told had been mailed on March 27, 2013, wasn't actually mailed at all. I feel a gut-wrenching urgency to bring my son home, quickly. I smarted-off to the cashier at the grocery store who asked me, in front of Maisy and Moxie, whether I "had any of my own". I said, "Well, I didn't steal them." Then I went on to say, flat out, that it is offensive when someone asks me whether my children are mine. The bad part is, I really don't feel very badly for saying it. It was high time, if you ask me. But, nobody has.
I'm going to end with this. Someone asked me the other day how we decided to adopt Patrick. I've thought very hard about my answer. And this is it. We did not decide to adopt Patrick. We loved him because God gave him to us. He is undoubtedly ours. I cannot imagine not pursuing his adoption. For however long, and I pray it is very, very, long, God gives him to me. I will love him.
That's it. I have no more.
God bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you and bring you peace.