Now that I’m back home and back to a normal schedule after the TESOL Convention last week, I’ve returned to my regular Bible study. It’s something I need to work on – Bible study should never be ditched even when life goes awry – but I found today’s readings (or rather, the week’s) especially touching.
Psalm 23 is so well-known. Many of us can quote it in our sleep. It was one that was recited at my grandmother’s memorial service, and its common words brought comfort to me. It’s part of the lectionary texts for the week per Alive Now. I prefer it in the New American Standard version.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I read the footnotes in my Bible, and it talks about how David wrote this while he was running and hiding from Saul, who was hot on his trail and wanting to kill him. Despite this, David found refuge even in the darkest moments.
Something I have been more cognizant of this calendar year has been to keep God at the forefront of my mind throughout the day. I get anxious very easily about my daily schedule; if something doesn’t go as planned I tend to start freaking out and complaining. One small change can send me over the edge, which can quickly form a dark downward spiral. It’s in those moments where I find calm, not in my ability to rein in my thoughts, but in declaring that God is the God of everything… even my daily mundane life. My goal is to seek refuge in Him whenever I’m feeling especially anxious to the point of an anxiety attack (thankfully attacks are rare for me now but still can happen*).
It grieves me to think of all the suffering and loss we have left to endure on the earth, with no escape that we can see with our human eyes. Therefore, we have to find refuge in the eternal. In this psalm, David is sure about goodness and lovingkindness following us throughout this life, and then he ends with our eternal hope. He writes in the present tense, reminding us, the readers, that God is here right now. At the juncture of this life and the next, we don’t just get glimpses and moments of calm in the midst of anxiety and confusion – we will walk into eternal calmness with absolutely no memory of our anxiety and confusion.