If you were to be able to be a fly on the wall in my home, one thing you would notice is that from the moment I get up I am a flurry of activity. I think I resemble an out-of-control pinball zipping back and forth. I got that from my Dad, I think. He was very much the same way. The best way to describe us is fireballs of energy always on the go. By the time lunch rolls around, I usually have checked off dozens of items on my to-do list.
That's just my average Monday before lunch to-do list. Like I said... flurry of activity. The after lunch list is just as crazy. The most difficult thing for me is to be forced to sit and do nothing. Last year when I had to have my pacemaker installed (yes, I have a pacemaker at age 40!) the first thing I asked the doctor wasn't "How dangerous is this?" or "How long will I be in the hospital?" My question was, "When can I start running again?"
Here's a problem, though. We have a tendency to equate this flurry of activity and long to-do lists with spirituality. God puts a high value on learning to rest.
Psalm 23:2 "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures..."
Sometimes to get me to rest, God has to make me lie down. When I had the pacemaker put in and when I had my gall bladder removed are good examples. Sometimes I struggle to hear His voice when He says, "Go lie down." I am more like Martha than Mary. I am Martha on overdrive. I don't usually complain about not having help. I enjoy the work, but sometimes I forget God wants me to stop and rest at His feet. Why? I have to admit that sometimes my truck load of a to-do list is a source of pride. I am a highly productive person, and it makes me feel spiritual, important, and useful. I equate productivity with spirituality. When my husband asks me how my day was, my day is judged on how productive I was. If my to-do list was accomplished I smile big and say, "It was productive!"
Yet Jesus praised Mary's choice to sit at His feet. He didn't have to force Mary to sit still. She chose to lie down in green pastures.
Luke 10:42 "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Me? He seems to repeatedly have to physically make me lie down. I am that crazy sheep in the pasture running around sweeping up leaves, inventorying the blades of grass, bopping from sheep to sheep asking how their meal is, checking the sun in the sky to see what time it is, and preparing for when it's time to move again.
All the while, the Shepherd, in His kindness and wisdom, is saying, "Rest!"
Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Don't equate productivity with spirituality. Spirituality is following the Shepherd's lead. When He says work, it's time to work. When He says rest, lie down!
My son moved back to the States in July. That left his bedroom available to create a guestroom. I have never had a guestroom before, so this was pretty exciting. We host a lot of people in our home throughout the year including nationals, foreigners, and visiting Pastors. Having a room dedicated to housing them is perfect!
We cleaned out my son's room. That was no small task! I bet there was three pounds of popcorn kernels. I organized the wardrobe with bedding, towels, and washcloths. Then on top of the wardrobe was a collection of blankets that needed to be organized. Since we house a lot of people, and since our house is not heated in the winter, we had accumulated many blankets.
Oh how pleasant it is to see God's provision!
Psalm 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."
I shall not want! I will not lack anything. The blessings of God were overflowing in our home in the form of blankets.
A few weeks later, I was speaking with someone. I knew it would be there first winter here so I just bluntly asked if they were ready for it. They were not. They were in need of blankets. As I thought about our abundance of blankets at home, I realized that I had "built bigger barns."
Imagine a farmer. It's harvest season, and he has an amazing crop ready to be harvested. It's way more than he needs this year and next year, and it is even too much for his barns to store. So what does he do? Does he build bigger barns and hoard it all for him and his family? Or does he choose to be a funnel for the Lord? A funnel passes on the blessings.
So here we were with our abundance of blankets. We have so many blankets that we have blankets downstairs just so we don't have to walk upstairs to get our other blankets. We have blankets for warmer months and blankets for colder months. We have blankets of different colors in case I want to change the color of the bedding to make it more decorative. So I had a choice... bigger barns or funnel of love?
1 John 3:17 "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
The Shepherd's provision is amazing and abundant. We are blessed! There is no shame in that. That's something to be celebrated. I shall not want! God is really good to us! But how tightly do we cling to those blessings? It is good to plan for the future and to be prepared, but when we trust in our barns full of goods instead of trusting in God's provision we are doing wrong. Sometimes God blesses us abundantly so that we can minister to the needs of others.
The Lord really is my Shepherd and I shall not want. Neither shall I hoard and close up my bowels of compassion.
This weekend was tough. Talk about feeling inadequate!
The day before church day, my husband told me that I would not have a translator for children's class. Stress washed over me like a raging river. I had my class all prepared and planned out based on having a translator. "I can't do this!"
I seem to feel that way a lot. "I can't do this!" Sometimes as a mom I feel the weight and magnitude of the responsibility of parenting. Some days I feel helpless and insufficient. Some days I question what I am doing. Some days I have a melt down. I feel like a loser mom. "I can't do this!"
I remember when we moved here. It took a few months, but culture shock set in. Once it did I was overwhelmed. I remember standing at the sink washing dishes in freezing water, feeling chilled to the bone because we don't have a heated home, and feeling isolated because of language barrier. I broke down in tears. "I can't do this!"
You know what God did? He didn't say, "Yes, you can. You are amazing and gifted!" Nor did He say, "Hang in there and have some determination!"
When I said, "I can't do this," God said, "No, no you cannot... but I can."
Psalm 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."
I shall not want. It means I shall lack nothing. It's easy to apply this to physical provision, but it goes beyond that. Yes, God supplies food, shelter, clothes, and other physical needs, but our Shepherd supplies so much more.
I can't parent these kids! And God says, "No, no you cannot, but I can. Follow me."
I can't teach this class! "No, no you can't... but I can. Follow my lead."
I can't live here! I can't reach these people! I can't play the piano or minister to the ladies or learn this language! No, I can't, but He can through me if I follow His lead. He is my Shepherd, and anywhere He leads He will also provide what is needed.
It's easy to believe "the LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want" when it comes to our daily physical needs, but what about the needs we have to accomplish what He has called us to do?
How can I parent these children? Follow the Shepherd.
How can I teach this children's class? Follow the Shepherd.
How can I ______________________?
Follow the Shepherd. You will not lack anything!
1 Thessalonians 5:24 "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
Our family loves to play games. We play all sorts of games. Uno, Ticket to Ride, Catan, Phase 10, Risk, Pictionary... we have quite a collection, and we are always looking for the next game to add to that collection.
One game we occasionally play is Monopoly. My youngest child has never been great at this game because he just can't quite grasp the value of things in the game. He is known for selling a green property for $200 or trading Marvin Gardens so he could get Connecticut Avenue. He just can't comprehend why no one wants to buy the "Get Out of Jail Free" card for $75. My oldest loves to take advantage of this lack of understanding. He will make a ridiculously low offer for something, and I usually intercede. When I advise the youngest boy on a fair trade, the oldest goes nuts. He misses out on a good deal. Yes, I must admit just the other day we played, and I bought a property from the youngest for much less than it was worth. At the urging of my husband and the weight of my own conscience, I gave my son a hefty tip to go with the purchase. My husband still says it was not enough.
But let me talk about a deal much greater than a Monopoly game.
It was an unfair trade. I took the deal. It was a steal of a deal. It was the trade of a lifetime. Actually, it was the deal of all eternity. I got everything and He got the short end of the stick.
I got peace with God. He became my Father and I became His child. I got a home in Heaven for eternity. I got help for each day and the Comforter residing in me. I got promises and guarantees that I will never be alone. I will never be forsaken. I got hope for today and for tomorrow. I got forgiveness. What did He get?
I look down at my hands... my hands are empty. I have nothing to give Him. Nothing! And what did this trade cost Him?
As I read Psalm 22 I am reminded of the price He paid. I am reminded of the unfair deal. I know the trade He made.
Psalm 22:1 "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?..."
He got loneliness and separation from His Father.
Psalm 22:13 "They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion."
He got mockery and disdain. He got humiliation.
Psalm 22:14 "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
He got pain and agony.
Psalm 22:15 "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death."
He got thirst and dryness.
Psalm 22:16 "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet."
He got a cruel death.
I look down at my hands again. They are still empty, yet I realize they are covered in blood. I have nothing of value to trade and I am guilty! Yet He pressed forward with the deal. He interceded with His blood for me. He knew the true value and yet made the trade anyway. My sins upon Him...
To some it was nothing more than a game. They tossed the dice at the foot of His cross.
Psalm 22:18 "They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."
I look down at my hands and see the dice. The dice smeared in blood from my guilty hands, I toss them from me. It's no game. I don't want to play that game.
So, I bowed my knees and took the deal. His life for mine.