So I set out to memorizing the words of that verse, each and every one of them. I read them over and over each and every day, trying to remember just one line more until I knew each and every word. It's not a very long Psalm, so it's not like it's a big feat or anything, but I'm not so great at memorizing even though I wish I were, and I just really felt that I needed to memorize it in whole. And it just so happened God wanted to use all of it to speak to me at different times throughout the months to follow, and I hold to each and every promise in it.
There came a point in memorizing Psalm 23 when it started changing for me. I was beginning to get in such great pain that it was as if at least 3 layers of skin had been shaved off my body with a ragged blade and like a dog was literally gnawing on my hips, on my bones; gnawing with his teeth ever so violently! It was when my pain was raw and biting, dull and aching, piercing, fierce and unrelenting. Honestly, it still is, though I've been given some tools to help curb it's effects on me now. It was a time when I was feeling so much more pain on top of this, the type that's actually indescribable for me, and then to top it off I couldn't move when I woke up in the mornings - sometimes for 3 hours. I've had FAR too many mornings where I've woken up feeling like a quadrapeligic for a few hours (and trust me, only a few short hours is long enough! I can't imagine a lifetime of it, though it saddens me to think of it.) where no matter how hard I tried, I could only move my fingers and my toes. I'm still going through this, though it takes less time to manage it (I think I recently had an hours tops, most days it's down to 15 -30 minutes, which is hugely great!). But when these verse changed for me were during this time back in the deep of winter where no matter how hard I screamed at my muscles to move, they just wouldn't listen and I would just sob and cry in terror on my bed for hours on end, trying to scream to Tyler down in the living room below to come help me, but with him unable to hear me through the closed door and fan, and the little boys and music playing all about him as well. Those hours were so terrifying and horrible - they were like hell for me. I'd scream for help, but no one could hear me. I would try to scream harder, but I was so weak that honestly, my scream really was only a weak wimper. I would shout at my arms to move even a little bit, so that I could slowly get them to the headboard to knock on it so Ty might at least hear that, but nothing. It was in those hellish hours that God's sweet voice would calm me down and get me through it. He taught me to move past the point of simply memorizing scripture and thinking about it through the day to the point of meditating upon it, and letting it envelope my senses and my soul.
So it was in those excruciatingly long and horrifying hours, where I was all alone with no hope of salvation from even my own husband who was yet a simple yell away, it was then that the Lord opened up these verses to me anew and I heard them much like this:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want...
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want...
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures... Hmm, in green pastures.
Softly now. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Even softer still, imagining the tall blades of grass sweeping tenderly across my face in the gentle breeze, with the warm rays of sunlight drifting slowly over me and warming my body and my soul, it's light brilliant yet so pleasant on that warm spring day. The trees are gently swaying and the leaves are softly humming their little crinkling song...
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Hmm... Yes. Green Pastures, I repeat with a smile on my face.
He leads me beside quiet waters. Beside. Quiet. Waters. I hear the stream beside me, the water trickling and dancing over the pebbles, as it sings it's own tender melodies as the drops and gallons drift along their course. The sweet symphony of noises all around me coupled with the sounds of the green meadow that envelope me form this harmonious whole, so pleasing to behold and so fulfilling to your heart that you want to stay in this moment forever. For me, I see the mountains hemming me in as well, their slopes lined with trees gently swaying in the breeze, adding to the symphony of sweet yet gentle noises that breathe their songs into me.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
YOU are with me. Yes... You are with me.
I just sit with the truth of it all for awhile, soaking in it's promise in the best way that I could. YOU, the God of the Universe, are with me. You are with me.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ~Psalm 23 (NIV)
Amen. Let it be - let it sink down into the deepest part of your soul and may the Lord let you lie down in green pastures and lead you beside quiet waters, that HE will restore your soul today. Let those words flow over you and through you today and always, and may you find comfort in His Almighty Arms!