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Circling the drain?

I have some friends who are cool, calm, and relaxed no matter what comes their way. I have others who seem to get more and more frazzled by each mounting stress in their lives, until they are 'spinning' in absolute frenzy. We all have times when our days just seem to spin out of control. It is not an easy thing for many of us - we don't like to have the control of our days in the hands of anyone else! Whenever control shifts, we feel "out of control" - anxiety creeps in, frustration mingles with our anxious thoughts, until we end up on the edge of wanting to just scream, "Give me back the reigns, fool!" Okay, if this has never described your day, don't read on! If it has...maybe you'd benefit as much as I do from pondering the words of the 23rd Psalm.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. (Psalm 23:1-3)

The 23rd Psalm - most of us associate the 23rd Psalm with a portion of scripture frequently read at funerals - it is probably the one most commonly read at the graveside. So, why am I directing our attention to a psalm about "death" or "graveside" testimony today? Well, the very first three words say it all! "GOD, my shepherd." GOD - you may remember as I have taught before of the meaning of these names of God in our Bibles written in all caps. LORD and GOD both stand for the name Jehovah, the name Israel knew referenced God Most High. In the simplest meaning, it is translated, as "The unchanging one". In fact, whenever we see the name GOD or LORD in scripture (in all caps), we can count on the passage speaking something of his being totally unchangeable in his promises, permanent in every way, and becoming all we have need of in that very moment. In fact, it is his intense compassion as a loving and unchanging God which moves him into action within our lives. This should be something that helps us find comfort when our world seems to be 'spinning'.

As this psalm opens, it starts with what we all have need of in our lives when things seem to be spinning out of control - a shepherd to watch over, guide, and protect us from any and all harm! When things are spinning out of control - we need not only wise guidance, but we certainly need protection from what others can do to us and what we can do to ourselves. As our psalmist says - "I don't need a thing". We stand in need of so much...but when we recognize the Shepherd of our souls is in control...we can confidently say, "I don't need a thing". Did you really catch that one? When WE stand in need, things in chaos around us, we don't NEED a thing - not one thing! All we NEED is found in Jesus! As if being in control is the aim, the next part of the passage settles this little misconception. It is God who "beds us down" - puts us to rest. I don't know about you, but as a mother, whenever I managed to rein-in the kiddos, get them all washed up and ready for bed, those first moments of peaceful sleep I'd observe as I looked in on them before I called it at night absolutely melted my heart. Those peaceful little ones, all innocent in their rest, just took away my breath. I imagine this is a little of what God feels whenever he finally gets us to settle into his rest!

He provides lush meadows - because we don't know our lack of comfort until we experience it as he provides it. He gives quiet pools to drink from - simply because we don't know how parched life leaves us until we drink deeply from something so satisfying. Spinning out of control takes its toll on our physical bodies, but also on our spiritual reserves. No one appreciates comfort until the pain gets too great to handle. We don't appreciate a cool drink until we experience thirst. I guess pain and thirst are really early warning signs of needing to look for the Shepherd in the midst of our 'spinning'! Don't forget the purpose of the rest and the refreshing - it is in order to catch our breath so we can "live to fight another day". But...we fight from a new vantage point when we find our rest in God alone! As we let God take us into his rest, we learn from the master planner of our lives - the one who knows the ins and outs of the chaos we face. The next step we take is one with him in control. It is in yielding control where we find the best "control" we could ever bring into our circumstances. Spinning? Maybe it is time for a little rest. Just sayin!

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