" The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake." (Psalm 23: 1-3)
God loves me. One of the reasons I know this is because He is providing me with some amazing opportunities at a time that I need them. Last summer I had been talking with Renee, who works in University Ministries at Samford, about the possibility of leading some students on a mission trip... at the time, my future was up in the air - I was looking into jobs at other Universities and Doctorate programs in Higher Ed... and eventually, those plans didn't work out. After Daddy passed away, my desire to do something bigger than me really came back with a fury... I didn't want to just go on vacation this year, I wanted to go somewhere and serve. So, in July after I returned to Samford I emailed Renee to ask about the possibility of the trip again this year. From our first meeting I was emotionally and prayerfully invested in this opportunity. There were a few little hurdles... but they have all been passed, and I'm going to be leading a group of students to work in an orphanage in Huehuetenango, Guatemala for 2 weeks in January!!!
I just can't tell you what a positive spin this has put on my life lately. From the time I got back to Birmingham after Daddy's death, God was putting a positive experience in my life... and those first few weeks were a really hard adjustment with a lot of emotions. However, God was/ is allowing the sadness to be filled with hope and anticipation!! As I thought of this new great opportunity and how it has made me feel, Psalm 23 came to mind. God has truly been restoring my soul through this opportunity. As I mentioned yesterday, after Daddy died I was SO mad at God... and I had seriously never felt pain like that before... the emotional loss of daddy was probably more painful than any illness I ever had. I couldn't figure out how I was going to do life without him, and didn't want to think about having to. I would cry till I had no more energy, and sometimes the literal sobs that came out of me even surprised me at their intensity and volume... but over the last month and a half, those episodes have diminished. I cry, of course, but it's not as intense because reality has set in. And despite all of that... I have been encouraged, I have been blessed, and I have been restored.
"Yea 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, they comfort me." (Psalm 23: 4)
I can easily say that my Daddy was my spiritual leader here on Earth... and I think Mom and Shane might say the same. And in those major valleys I've been walking through I have not been afraid, in fact... I have become more comfortable with the concept of death. Now, I'm not a morbid person... and I'm not looking forward to death itself, but knowing that Daddy will be there to welcome me makes it a bit easier to take. I'll have a really familiar face waiting on me when I get there... and the anticipation of that makes me a bit more comfortable with the subject. In the role of my dad and my spiritual leader, like the Shepherd in verse 4, Daddy was my protector, teacher, and guide. Daddy was the first person I would call when I had a problem, question, random bit of info, or bull riding results... and so many of his words, the sound of his singing, and the memories of him have comforted me through his loss. And of course, our Heavenly Shepherd has brought those things to my mind when I needed them... both of my F/fathers have been comforting me as I travel through the valley!
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever." (Psalm 23: 5-6)
What hope there is in these verses!!! The buffet of blessings that God provides us is so immense we can't handle it... and they are going to keep coming!! (All the days of my life/Forever... that's a long time folks!). These two verses are overwhelming in two ways to me:
- Think of all the possibilities of the blessings here...
- ... and I don't deserve any of them!!
"For His name's sake."
We are blessed with blessings so that we can turn around and praise HIM!! God does all of this stuff: these blessings, protection, comfort, guidance... all of it is so that we will recognize that we can't get through life without HIM!!! It's been hard learning to do life with out Daddy... but there is no way I would could get through a day if it wasn't for my Lord...
God, please help me to always see life through Psalm 23... to recognize your comfort and your blessings, and to give you the glory for it all. Thank you for the opportunity to take students to Guatemala, and please call students to this trip as you have me. Please help me to be the leader that I need to be for those students... and allow us to learn from each other.
Thanks you for loving me... when I deserve it the least.