Still Waters

God woke me this morning with the image of a mountain spring and Psalm 23. Those who know me well, know how much I love David’s beautiful poem. No scripture touches my heart the way it does, and it beautifully describes the transforming power of His lessons this week.

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. (KJV)

The line that touched my heart and soul this morning was “he leaded me beside the still waters.” The waters in my life have been anything but still, so I’ve yearned for the peaceful waters described in verse two. With a lot of trust and a little fear, I let go of my will and gave God the reigns to my heart. I’ve surrendered bits and pieces before, but this was a complete letting go that left me completely at His mercy.

I grew up thinking God was a powerful reckoning force full of fury, and that’s why there was a little fear in my letting go. Love has always held an element of fear for me, and God knew that was holding my heart back and keeping me from loving as He desires. I finally found the courage, with the help of a dear friend, to trust God completely. I wasn’t prepared for what happened because I was expecting the usual hurt to be unusually painful. I wasn’t expecting peace in place of the pain, but that’s exactly what I felt as God led me beside the still waters and bid me to drink deeply and relax completely.

A wise friend once told me that relaxing into obedience was the best way to obey. That didn’t sink in completely then, but it did this morning as I found myself waking up beside a cool, sweet spring of living water. I can’t remember ever feeling so relaxed in my life.

My early life was spent drowning in muddy waters. Confusion and despair kept my heart from finding my way out. I went from the lake into a stormy sea and spent three decades fighting waves in troubling waters. When God finally brought me to the shore, I made my way up an inviting creek that proved to be frigid when I mustered up the courage to venture in. I decided to stay away from the water after that, but God had other plans. He led me beside the deep waters of a still mountain spring. Confused and curious by this new connection to water, I created a muddy mess by playing in it instead of sitting still and drinking deeply.

I love the way God teaches, and this morning was classic God as He reminded me of a time over fifty years ago when I stirred up my aunt’s spring and learned a difficult lesson from daddy. My mother’s oldest sister was named Edith, and she and her husband Dave lived far back in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Upon arriving, daddy sent my sisters and I to fetch some fresh water from her spring.The first thing daddy wanted after finishing the treacherous trek up the mountain was a cup of that precious water to go with his bourbon.

Edith and Dave didn’t have running water or electricity, but they did have a well right behind the house. That water was wonderful, but it didn’t compare to the water from the spring further up the mountain. My sisters and I were ready to move after the long trip, so we headed off in search of the spring. I got their first and took the ladle Aunt Edith had given me and started playing in the water. If you know me, that makes perfect sense.

When we returned to the cabin with a pail of muddy water, my father’s wrath was intense. He knew I was stupid, but could I possibly be that stupid!! It would take hours for the dirt to settle, so he would have to settle for well water. I slipped outside and asked myself the same question he had asked of me. I came up with the same answer I always came up with. I must be that stupid because the evidence kept pointing in that direction. I was feeling the same sense of stupidity a few weeks ago as I struggled with the stirring I was doing in my heart.

God always hears my heart, and He always answers my prayers in ways I never understand. Like that stirred spring, it took a while for my heart to settle into a state of sweet peace; but the resulting cleansing was even more amazing than that mountain spring when I returned later to fetch its water in the proper way. The murky mess I made was replaced with a crystal clear oasis waiting to quench my powerful thirst. My heart was like Aunt Edith’s spring this morning as I relaxed into an obedience that wasn’t motivated by guilt or fear; it came straight from Christ’s precious love, and that’s exactly where obedience is supposed to come from. Maybe, I’m not so stupid after all 🙂

A Breath of Fresh Prayer

When praying becomes as natural as breathing, the praying life becomes a reality. In a week filled with so much hurt, I found a breath of fresh prayer this morning. I’ve sighed and cried and supplicated this week, but the greatest sense of relief came when I breathed a deep sigh of giving in and giving up. The sorrow of the week helped me see the futility of trying to understand that which I cannot understand, and that gave God the space He needed to breathe His Word into me.

I came to the end of my prayer rope this week and made the freefall of faith that must occur if I am to trust and obey Him completely. I would not have let go if I could have held on.  I suppose I thought I would hit something or crash when I let go, and that shows a lack of faith in and of itself. What I found was David’s sweet psalm that I always had my students memorize. The Twenty-Third Psalm came one line at a time, and it was like breathing in sweet fresh air after being underwater or in a stuffy cellar.

So thankful for His precious Word that filled my heart and lifted my spirit. Psalm 23

“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 Lordfor ever.”  KJV

With each line, God breathed new life into my weary heart and taught me that prayer is not only asking and crying out, it is also breathing in His Spirit. Too often, I don’t turn to God until there is no other hope or when tragedy humbles. Praying, like breathing, involves taking in the comfort and joy God has to offer or simply enjoying His precious presence. I’m guilty of talking to Him and then hanging up before He has the chance to answer. That’s as silly as only breathing out.

Take time to take in a breath of fresh prayer, and you’ll find that the freefall of faith is a simple sigh of release followed by a deep inhaling of His Spirit. It makes all the difference in the world when it comes to praying and living the life He has in mind:)