“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-2
I rarely see it coming. But it always does.
Things are going smoothly. I’m checking things off my to-do list, making every social engagement, planning ahead for the program year, visiting all my shut-ins – and despite the regular meditation and prayer practices that keep me centered, I get stopped in my tracks. I get made to lie down right there in the middle of God’s green pastures whether I have time for it or not.
This past month has been exactly that. There’s been one personal, congregational, national and global devastation after the other. Flood, hurricane, wildfire, racist rally, protest, Iowa kids garbed in KKK hoods, cross burning, funeral, infant loss, illness, medical scare…there’s been A LOT! And I know I am not alone.
Our Christian Education Chair asked me to start the program year off focusing on Psalm 23 with the kids and if I’m honest, at first I rolled my eyes because this familiar Psalm seems so over done, so sanitized that I was at a loss.
But as I was made to lie down, to stop in my tracks, to be still after such a devastating and chaotic month I read that psalm and was reminded that God is there through it all with us. That God is curled up with us as we sleep in the lush meadows. That God is offering us a refreshing drink when we’ve worn ourselves out and are trying to catch our breath. That God is our mapping system when we’ve lost our way. That God is our light when we are in a dark place. That God is our bodyguard when we’re in an even darker place. That God is our mediator when we are feeling stubborn or acting childish with people we don’t like-maybe even with people we hate. That God is our joy as well as the one who gives us blessing.
And that is a message for all generations to hear, more than once.
Being made to lie down, being stopped in my tracks, I’ve felt a bit of guilt creep up. The “shoulds,” if you will, that have been left undone because of all the things that have taken priority. But as I get older I’m learning to respect those rhythms of life a bit more. Much less hustle, much more flow. Even if that flow means I’m made to stop and simply lie in God’s presence.
May you feel the presence of God whether you are laying in the green pastures or the dark valleys. You are not alone.
—Pastor Samantha Houser, Waukon Zion UCC and Program Support/Adjunct of Youth Ministry in Iowa Conference UCC