I haven't slept with a stuffed animal for at least forty years. But this past Tuesday, I did. My sweet friend got me this little lamb because in addition to having to have surgery, because of Covid restrictions at the hospital, I would not be allowed any visitors. The thought of me being alone in the hospital the night after surgery broke her heart, so she wanted to give me a tangible reminder of God's loving presence. She was thinking about Psalm 23, about the Lord being my shepherd, and the promise that he would give me everything I needed. And of course, if he is my shepherd, that means I am his lamb.
What she didn't know is that I had been reading Psalm 23 as well, reflecting on the comforting truths found in that passage of Scripture. As much as I did not want to have to go through surgery, as much as I was truly terrified of the process, I could not deny God's hand leading me every step of the way. From every doctor's appointment to things being rearranged on my schedule, it seemed apparent that God was orchestrating all of it. And as I read each line of this beloved Psalm, my heart stretched to believe and fully receive the tender care of my Shepherd.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Everything I need, he will provide.)
He makes me lie down in green pastures, (He is in this. He is at work in me, making me slow down. Settle down. Lie down. In green, lush pastures.)
He leads me beside quiet waters, (He is actively involved. This is not just happening to me, but he is actually leading me through this. Leading me into this and out of this. Leading me beside quiet waters, into peaceful resting places.)
He refreshes my soul. (Oh how I need this. Interesting how this happens after He makes us lie down. After he leads us beside quiet waters. After our calendars have been cleared and the activity has ceased. He will restore my soul.)
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Sometimes the right path isn't an easy one. Sometimes the right path isn't one we would have chosen. Sometimes God chooses to heal us through pain. I came to see that God would heal me through this surgery, so that I could move forward into whatever he has prepared for me to do, to bring honor to His name.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I wish I could tell you I wasn't afraid, God did give me a measure of peace leading up to the day of surgery. But on that day, as they prepped me and brought me into the OR, I was so scared. I repeated Psalm 23 in my mind the best I could, but the reality of what was about to happen overwhelmed me. My surgeon took my hand as they moved me onto the table, and she looked in my eyes and said, "It's all going to be good. You can squeeze my hand. It's OK." Her presence and compassion brought me comfort. Sometimes we need something tangible - human touch. That is the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery.
The surgery went well. I am on my way to healing. And that little lamb did it's job, reminding me that I am never alone, and that God tenderly cares for me. I am going to re-gift it and pass it on to another dear friend who has suffered too many losses this year. Loved ones gone without a chance to say good-bye. Our Shepherd walks us through the darkest of valleys.
How about you? Do you need a reminder that your Shepherd tenderly cares for you? Whatever you may be facing right now, you are not alone. You are never alone. Read through Psalm 23 and personalize it for you.
Or maybe you know someone who is going through a valley. You may not be able to hold their hand or see them in person right now, but perhaps you could send a card or a gift, or connect with them over a phone call or FaceTime conversation.
I am thankful for my loving family who is taking excellent care of me, for wonderful friends who are showing up with meals, texts, and phone calls, and for this time I have to heal and be restored. Thank you for your prayers, and please let me know how I can be praying for you! (I've got some extra time on my hands . . . ) You can send me a message through the contact form on this website, or find me on Instagram or Facebook and send me a message there.
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