“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads 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 anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:1-6
When I was a child I spent every minute I could outside in the field of daisies next to our house, on the top of a mountain, overlooking a valley, while I talked nonstop with God. I would sit in the field or climb the trees and we would talk about everything. He was my childhood best friend. I would bring my Bible out and preach to the birds and the mice (who actually seemed to sit and listen) and the garden snakes (who never stuck around for a sermon). I spent hours doing memory work, memorizing as much of the Bible as I could.
Life happened – and I walked away and have not ever returned to that field. I cannot return to that specific field. At some point I gave up on all those conversations with God and all those secrets we shared and what seemed in hindsight as childish wishing for a future – which isn’t very adult, logical or sustainable. And I slipped further and further into hopelessness – But God never slipped away from me.
I always knew He was there calling me and “pushy condemning and judgmental Christians” kept me away. I was in the flesh and only the spirit of love was going to penetrate the wall I had built – not ‘good intentions done with earthy wisdom’. I did not need that kind of negativity when I knew I was a sinner, and moreover I knew God still accepted me the way I was in the mess I was in. I was in dire need of an experience with grace. I needed God’s way – not man’s way.
As cliché as it is – Psalm 23:1-6 seemed to be the only verse I could recall those first few months of me returning to Christ. Just about 2 years ago. For those who don’t know the story, I lost a baby in February, 1 year and 11 months ago – and of course this verse was the only verse I could remember. I was hurt and angry and even more angry that God did not give me something specific and unique to me – instead I could only remember the passage that everyone gets when they lose someone. On top of that it is unfair that there isn’t any set of words on earth that can comfort when you lose a child – but these are not earthly words and slowly they miraculously changed me.
It was months before I started to let others know I was seeking God. I mean, what would people think about the brokenhearted lady only turning to God because she lost a child? (I had such pride.) And of course I was already battling their earthly wisdom and “well wishes”, reminding me it was “for the best” and I am too old to have another child. 6 months I wandered that field, alone with God. I was the valley of the shadow of death. There were no lush trees to climb with song birds singing. There were not endless daisies swaying in the breeze. I was not free, I did not run, and I did not even lift my head. I did not fellowship with other believers. I secretly watched church online. It was not the field I grew up in, walking with God. BUT, God was there and changing me!
Then I started telling people that God was changing me and I joined my friends in attending a church. I shed layer after layer in reckless abandonment running into grace! I decided I did not care any longer for the things of this world, therefore I had nothing left to lose. God, here I am – I am all in!
All those verses I had memorized started coming back. I learned to hear his voice in confidence again. I returned to studying the word of God in depth. (I know not everyone is called to reading and studying as I do – please do not feel you need multiple lexicons and concordances and history books and etc. just to study the Bible. All you need is a Bible, read it and let God explain it. If you want more, then get a nice study Bible – it is sufficient.)
16 months ago, I went to my cousin’s church with my cousin and brother. There were 3 words spoken out during the service, all very related to each other, and one specifically from the lady behind me, spoken over me which comes directly from Psalm 23:
“I have prepared a table before you, a full banquet, You have come to the feast but you refuse to eat. You don’t feel worthy of even the scraps of food – but this whole feast is for you and in your honor. Eat! Eat! I have prepared it all in the presence of your enemies; I have anointed your head with oil; eat the feast and drink my wine from the cup that overflows. This is for you because you are my chosen child. I have called you and have not forsaken you. Pull a chair up to the table and eat.”
God showed me I had made it through the shadow of the valley of death and was onto the feast. And the word of God was spread out before me, like a feast, and I worshiped and studied (ate up the word). Then one day God told me to start sharing my studies here. And here is where you can see the growth from then until now.
Daily I continue to seek God first. Daily I desire to go deeper. Daily a fire burns inside my soul for my God and daily it burns hotter. About two years of asking God for deliverance from the bondages that overtook me and asking for restoration. God keeps saying wait for your release.
In October or November, God said – Go home. Go back to the church you grew up in. You were there before the foundation was laid – it is your home so go back and be restored.
As many of you know, since returning to God, all that matters to me is less of me and more of Him – and obedient submission to His will. It is a natural response to an experience with grace.
So going back to my home church – I had pride and memory of hurt and did not want to revisit the past. I didn’t know if I had unforgiveness and people to forgive – and did not want to have confrontations with fleshly man and thought it was all behind me – I didn’t want to even know if there were any dried bones still in those places. BUT not my will, but Thy will be done. Time to practice the lessons on forgiveness, love and humility.
I pulled back up all those memories, in prayer, and gave them to God. I let go of it all and said I will focus on obedience and let God heal. I made sure to follow the steps laid out in the bible and did a thorough job of examining myself in His revelation and light. I was determined to complete my task, be freed from it, and be able to move forward in grace. He gave me the passage about the lepers who were healed “in the going”.
“When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.” Luke 17:14 ESV
I did the prayer and examination work for 2 or 3 weeks before I drove up into the parking lot of “home” one Sunday. My eyes swelled with tears. I said not my will, but Thy will be done. I wiped my eyes and went inside and quoted Luke 17:14 all the way into the building. AND I WAS COMPLETELY HEALED AS I WENT.
I was greeted as the prodigal returning home. Open arms and joy, tears of joy and glory to God. Right there! That! God gets the glory! These people had continued to pray for me – for years! They needed to see me returned and on fire as much as I needed to be obedient in walking through those doors. I could confidently comfort them in saying: I lead the prodigals home (I may be one of the first, but if I returned – so will they.) Prayer works and they needed the miracle I represent.
Last night the Pastor shared to the small group of us in the prayer meeting, what God had told him about me. It was a word of restoration. It was a promise that God WILL complete the work he has started in me. It was a requirement that I boldly commit in front of all who were there that I was committed to Christ as Christ is committed to me. It was a reminder that I am not yet released – but also a reminder to the church that I will be (maybe less of a reminder and more of a fair warning to them of what He is going to do!) That God is about to use me mightily as I continue to surrender to him. And it was instruction to return to the field. To where I spent hours communing with God. To where God called me. To where God told me to study, preach and teach – to cast out demons, to heal the sick, to bring salvation and transformative grace to the sinners.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
So, now He makes me lay in the field and commune with Him, again, right beside the still waters. He restores. I came home for restoration, unaware that the restorative work would be exceedingly abundant above all I could ask or think! When He said restoration, it was never about walking into the building or healing and overcoming the past. It was about something greater – bigger! It is about what is to come!!!
So I am back to just hanging with my God, for His name sake – for His glory. The impossible is always possible with Him. My God always answers with exceedingly abundantly and if it isn’t exceedingly abundantly – Then He isn’t finished quite yet! So seek Him with all your heart!
“10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV
Verse 13 is the verse of the day on my Bible app. But just look at the feast this lays out for me today after a message from God regarding my restoration. I have left Babylon (the time period in which I was enslaved to sin, my sin exiled me from home, and held captive) and He has lead me back to this place. He DOES hear me when I pray. I DO find Him when I seek Him! And now He will restore!
“nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV
Dear heavenly Father, please be glorified in me. Please, open our ears and eyes to understand your great love for us. Heal us, deliver us, bathe us in your power, and transform us into your will and calling. ~ in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen