The Lord is my Good Shepherd, I shall not want…you prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Its been three and a half weeks now since we lost our baby.  I have finally started to feel more hopeful and re-energized. I’ve been madly managing my household — picking up the left-overs from our move a month ago, and finally having emotional capacity to “make home”.  It’s been rejuvenating for me.

And yet, the grieving continues, springing up when I least expect it. It hit me hard this afternoon as I was cleaning our upstairs for the first time since we moved in. The tears set in and I had a good cry.

So much of this grieving process has been mourning the loss of a dream. I always imagined myself as that mom with at least three littles under 5, hustling children through the store. I wanted the farm-house, the full home, the homeschooling-homecooking-homemade-home-everything Proverbs 31 woman life. This was my “white-picket fence”.

But two babies in heaven was not in the equation. Being so close to the “fearful-35” with only two children is not that picture. Seemingly being unable to sustain a pregnancy puts that future dream on the guillotine, with that shiny sharp metal of death lingering way too close for comfort.

And so I have been slowly, slowly, by His great grace and mercy, turning my hands upward, with aching longing in my heart, and surrendering that dream to Him. I am letting go of my design for my happiness. And walking this path is full of fears: “If I can’t have my plan for my life, will I still be happy? Is there present joy for me? I am willing to live for future joy, but what about in the waiting? Will my life only be full of longings never fulfilled?”

And today, in the midst of my tears, He showed me another promise from Psalm 23, that old, familiar song of David.

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.

There is a promise here in this Psalm, not for the future joys of heaven, but for right now, in the present day: “in restoring my soul”, in “the presence of my enemies”, in “walking through the valley of the shadow of death”, in “all the days of my life”. These are all characteristics of this side of heaven. The forever doesn’t come until the end — the end of all the days of my life.

There is a promise for restoration, a fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from green pastures, not just the dry, thirst-driven wilderness.

There is promise for a life without fear because of the strong, faithful, protective presence of a guiding Shepherd.

There is promise for a feast in the presence of my enemies — a provision of good things right in the face of my enemies — death and evil and the mockery of all things good.

There is promise of a goodness and mercy to follow me all my days. Goodnesspresent, all my days. Because “His steadfast love endures forever,” (Psalm 136).

Oh how I hunger to taste of that goodness; how I need His tender care to restore my dried-up soul; how I long for that feast.

These promises cannot be fulfilled without surrendering my idea of what will satisfy me. And so as I release my old hopes, He gives me assurance, a new hope. I do not know the content of my future and where that goodness and joy will come from, but the promise is that, as I look to Him, and trust Him for it, He will prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. And so, I can walk through this valley of the shadow of death without fear of evil, because He is good, and He is with me, and He will never leave me or forsake me, and because surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life.

Psalm 23 by Shane & Shane