The LORD is so careful. Full of care. With gentleness, he always, and thoroughly, does what is best for me. For you too. He knows it and he does it.
He gives everything that is necessary for real life.
Sometimes he makes me slow down and take notice. That is when I get to see Beauty. Touch a flower. Listen to the grass blowing in a spirit breeze. Smell the earth. Moments, those, that last and endure.
He also takes me to water. Deep, deep water. Waters, because there are layers and micro currents there, beneath the surface.
Sometimes I feel emptied—almost. Barren, far within, where it really hurts. And then, suddenly, he brings such a sense of well being that it soothes my soul, through and through to my innermost being. It gives me strength; and at those times, I would do anything, could do anything that is right. And then, he leads me there, toward rightness.
And with that strength, and by his leading, well, you know, I have been very close to death. It casts a shadow, even into a fertile valley. A valley made alive by the flow from the mountains beyond. But the valley is a shadow, relative to those peaks. Yet, there is simply no fear when I walk there, in the shadows, with evil intent all around.
I have no trace of fear and here’s why: You God, are with me there. With us there, I am sure. With. So, you LORD, with a flick of your wrist, you slice the shadow open and fling its entrails across the grass. Your fiery glance causes it to avert its dark eyes and then amble off in irrelevance. You crush it under your foot, grinding it into the dust. You slay death! It’s true, and it is a comfort. [And God, here is how you work. Just now as I sit in the corner and write this and pray it (I swear this is true) a barista at this coffee shop where you and I talk very frankly sometimes back in the restroom, this barista just brought a ceramic cup of tea over to me. On the house. She said to let it steep. And then she turned the little tag over, the one that is attached to the string of the tea bag. She turned it over so that I could see it. She said. “You look like you need this.” And then she just walked away, smiling. The tag says “Comfort”.]
It all makes me weep, and never with sadness. God, you just don’t stop. While you are being kind, and leading, and defeating, and comforting, while you are doing that, you are preparing a banquet feast. Enemies and those who seek to do harm are powerless to do anything but watch. Because it is not for them.
And, oh God, sometimes you fill my every sense. You pour fragrant oil and use it to . . . words kind of fail here . . . It is pleasant. Sensual. Joyful. Full of wonder. And it does fill me. Completely. To the point that it overflows, and I simply must let it flow out.
There is no doubt that it is from you. And there is certainty that it is, all because of your mercy. Your goodness and benevolence will never end. Living with you is forever a place of peace.
407 years ago, old school:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.