Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Psalm 33 & Shepherd Thoughts

"By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth" psalm 33:6

This verse makes me think of  being little in Illinois in the mornings of winter, pressing my face against a cold pane of glass, watching in delight as my breath forms a cloudy ring. Cade's to that age (and height) now, where he can pull up and press his chubby little lips against anything and everything. I think we left a few ring marks on at least two of the houses where we stayed in Texas this past week, complete with what I am sure is now his dried snot and saliva. Gross. But endearingly gross.

And what if this verse shows us that God has, like my favorite portion of Orthodoxy suggests, the tendency to be like a child, and way back in the beginning He pressed His mouth against the dark, cold pane of emptiness and breathed. And the remnants of His breath are our starry host, the entire universe, the galaxies, the potential other universes. He has really good breath. Really beautiful breath. And that same breath was what breathed into the dry, crumbling dust of the earth and caused the crown of creation to be brought to life. Us. We are the remnants of His breath too. In Proverbs 8 when it talks about creation, it says wisdom (Jesus) was "rejoicing in His inhabitable world, delighting in the human race." He loves us and likes us too.

This has probably been the worst week of my parenting life. I've been a complete mess, and so have my kids. Explosive diarrhea, running out of clothes in an airport, throw up in the pack and play kind of mess. My patience has been totally zapped. And at the end of the day, I just want to cry and tell the Lord that I don't deserve to be a mom. But I keep feeling, even at the end of these kind of days, this undeserved blanket of affection settling over me. Do you ever go through seasons like this? Like all I want is to hear Him say, "Yep, you've screwed up. I'm about to pull the rug out from under you like you deserve you worthless little..." but He never once has said that. Or made me feel that. In fact, the past few weeks its been too much. Too good. Everytime I got to have a quiet time, its like He's bending over my heart, just patiently rearranging all the mess I've made and its so sweet I just want to cry.

I've been reading Hinds Feet on High Places the past month or so, and if you haven't read it and you don't feel loved by God and you feel afraid of where He might take you in the name of love, READ IT. It has rocked me, and I've seen God as the Good Shepherd that He is. Today is October 23rd, which means that I ought to be reading Psalm 23 in my quiet time, but the Bible was left open to Psalm 33, which is how I landed on the aforementioned verse. But I know what Psalm 23 is about. Everybody does. The Lord is my shepherd.

Isn't it interesting that David, presumably hundreds of years before Jesus ever was incarnate, got a revelation about the heart of God that Jesus would later come and totally verify? Jesus proclaims in John 10 that He is the Good Shepherd. David says the Lord is His shepherd centuries before. David got revelation about God's character because he spent time searching it out. Or maybe it was less searching, and more seeing. Earlier in Psalm 33 it says, "The earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord."

I was laying in a hammock in a backyard in Waco on Sunday, while Chad went to get us food and my two sick babies were asleep, and I was so hunkered down in my own frustration that I almost didn't see it. Right above my head, in my line of vision, were these gorgeous glossy leaves arching over me in inquiry, their gnarled branches proudly boasting they'd seen many days rooted in that Texas soil, and bright yellow butterflies floating and hovering in their midst, and four birds singing and in tandem diving and dancing in the sunlight, all against a piercingly blue morning sky where little puffs of clouds hung contentedly over me. And it was then I thought, this beauty is for us. A love-song sung over us every day. "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will exult over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will exult over you with loud singing." (zeph 3:17)

"All His work is done in faithfulness" Psalm 33:4 tells me. But I don't really need it to tell me that. I see it everyday. His faithfulness to me. To let me start again. To refill my love-cup when its on empty. To quiet me when I'm rushing, to refresh me better than any down time can.

Mom told me when I was little some of the profound things about God calling Himself a Shepherd, but I will never get over the idea that when a sheep wanders off, the Shepherd has to discipline her by breaking her legs, and then He carries her around His neck while she heals, so she learns to love His presence, and never wanders off again. This week, in my failure, I have also felt more near the Lord than ever. Maybe something about seeing the sad image of what I can be when I'm tired, disgruntled, and annoyed makes me realize my need for God's help even more. I fell asleep last night thinking about how I wished I could be a sheep around His neck. I started to wonder what that would be like. What would He smell like? As a Good Shepherd, whose out in the field, working, tending, care-taking, providing? Would His hands feel calloused where he holds me? Would I feel the rumble of His voice in His chest? Would I sense His heartbeat? I don't know. But I know that's how near He holds us. And I don't want to miss out on breathing deeply of Him today.