Thursday, October 29, 2009
From Paper Rain Clouds to Glorious Rainbows
I know there are some of you thinking: “Give that woman a concordance! Enough with the 23rd Psalm.” To that, I promise that not only will goodness and mercy follow, but so will other topics and scriptures. But I will explain a bit why this overused, well-loved passage of comfort is so special to me.
In January of 2004 I found myself in a hospital room. The paper rain cloud the nurses had taped to the door announced that the patient inside was badly in need of a rainbow. The circumstances that brought me there were not planned, thus I had nothing packed for my stay at the IV and Catheter Grand Hotel. (Note: I'd give it 2 stars and wouldn't recommend the room service.)
What I wanted the most was my Bible. I’m not sure it would have been much help because I had been crying so much that my eyes were almost swollen shut. I looked like Rocky Balboa in a hospital gown.
Brad had gone to check on the kids and visiting hours were over. I was alone . . . except for the presence of my Heavenly Father. I found myself talking with God. My journalism classes taught me to start with what, why, how, where, when. I had my mental pad and pencil ready as I asked, "What are you trying to teach me? Why did this happen? How will I ever be whole again? Where are you through this sadness? When will the pain stop?" But I really wasn’t prepared for any of these answers and He knew it.
I began to recite the 23rd Psalm. It was the very first complete chapter of the Bible that I memorized as a child, but over the years it had lost its meaning. It was just something poetic slapped on the back of funeral programs. But that day, every word seemed whispered in my ear by the One who brings perfect peace.
I got to the “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” A fresh reserve of tears showered down my cheeks. Then I got to “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” I paused and just let my spirit drink in those words. It was a truth so small that I had completely missed its significance. The 23rd Psalm doesn’t end in the valley of death . . . it ends with goodness and mercy shall follow!
I created a gutter of Kleenex to catch the downpour, while trying to get a few more answers from God since He seemed to be speaking in a way I could hear. “What are they, Lord, what are 'goodness and mercy' and when will they come??!!!" At that moment I felt all my fear, confusion, anxiety, pain, and heartbreak lift. It was replaced with a perfect peace and joy. It's a feeling that to this day I have no words to describe. That was my first glimpse of goodness and mercy to come.
The coming hours and weeks my valley got deeper and darker, but the peace and joy never left. And in the months and years that have followed, I have experienced goodness and mercy in abundance.
For those of you enduring valleys right now, I wish I could tell you what goodness and mercy are, but they will be different depending on your valley. But I’ve found them in rainbows and sunsets displayed in amazing grandeur at unbelievable moments. I've found them in the prayers and support from family and friends. I’ve found them in a baby bird’s head peeking out of a nest, in an ultrasound proclaiming a healthy heartbeat, in a baby’s first cry. I’ve found them in a sick body restored to health and in a dying loved one meeting her Savior. I’ve found them at a wedding where both the bride and groom wore veils of gray hair. I’ve found them in a orphan’s smile when he is told he has been chosen and meets his mama for the first time. I've found them kneeling in prayer with my sweet children thanking God for His faithfulness.
In the coming weeks, I’ll share a bit more about my valleys--to some of you they may seem deep . . . to others they will seem like merely potholes compared to your own. My hope is that this blog will not just be about my story, but include yours as well. Please feel free to share of your journey in the comments section. There's nothing I enjoy more than celebrating God’s goodness and mercy because not only has it followed . . . my cup overflows.