There are storms raging on our television screens, twitter feeds & facebook timelines 24/7 these days...Harvey, Irma, Jose. We are overwhelmed by photos of destruction, warnings of impending danger and shifting what-if scenarios.
Off the screens and in our real lives there are countless other storms brewing and wreaking havoc. I am surrounded by people experiencing soul crushing storms: illnesses, financial ruin, addiction, families in crisis.
And in my guest bedroom, there is Little Bit, a precious preschool aged foster child who has already experienced more loss and tragedy in her short life than my adult heart can comprehend.
It is really all so much. Yesterday it felt like too much. I was heavy, useless, walking around in a fog, lost in my own what-if scenarios, frustration with 'the system,' weariness at this sin-sullied world. The realization that I cannot fix any of it left this doer in an identity crisis of sorts.
As I talked about it off and on with God through the day, I felt led to call a prayer warrior from my church and vomit my worries and emotions. She responded by reading Psalms to me over the phone. When we hung up I read a few more in the quiet before beginning my afternoon carline drill.
As bedtime approached, Little Bit, normally an easy going, sweet and compliant child just started wailing. As I tried to nudge her through the bedtime routine, assuming it was exhaustion fueling her outburst, she started screaming, "On my inside, I just feel so much pain. It hurts so much I just want to scream." (Yes, those were the words of a preschooler!)
Keenly aware of my inability to fix, I wrapped her wet, post bath body up in a towel and sat with her while she screamed. Perched on the toilet seat, I pulled her into my lap and started to rock. She asked if we could go rock "in a real chair" so we moved to the porch. After a few minutes of quiet, we returned to her bedroom. Getting her settled, I reached in a basket of books and pulled out Sally Lloyd-Jones' Found: Psalm 23. Psalms had ministered to me earlier that day, and it seemed a good choice for this moment.
Little Bit had never been to church before foster care. When I said the name Jesus to her a few days ago she asked "Who is he?" So as I read this paraphrased for children rendition of Psalm 23, beautifully illustrated with a little lamb and a tender shepherd who feeds, guides, protects and takes care, she hung on every word. This wasn't an old familiar story, it was a revelation.
In the center of the book, it says "Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places I won't be afraid. Because my shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me."
As I read these lines Little Bit slapped her hand on the page, looked straight into my eyes and implored, "Is this real? Is this true?"
With a breath-taking realization that this was a sacred, important moment, I managed to squeeze out a "Yes. Yes, it IS true."
"Keep reading," she commanded.
"He keeps me safe. He rescues me. He makes me strong and brave."
She listened intently as I turned the page...
Look at that promise: He is getting things ready...just for this little lamb. And her heart that needed to scream because it was in so much pain? It is his desire to fill it with so much happiness it can't be held inside.
I was deeply convicted by how little faith I have had. I have been tied up in knots trying to make a plan for Little Bit's life---fearful of her spirit and heart being crushed by 'the system' rather than trusting her Creator.
And the final line? It says:
"Wherever I go I know...
God's Never Stopping
Never Giving Up
Always and Forever Love
will go, too!"
In that moment I thought surely David wrote this Psalm so that Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago would reproduce it JUST FOR THIS NIGHT.
We grown up Christians can make things so complicated--the Gospel is clear and true.
I am not the boss of anyone's life, but there is an AUTHOR, a RESCUER, a PERFECTER, a SHEPHERD.
He sees us in the dark nights of our pain. He knows what we need. He is trustworthy. He is indeed a very good shepherd.
"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart." Isaiah 40:11a
I'm so grateful.