Heading Home: Walking with Jesus to the Cross — Day Twenty-Four



Psalm 23, from The Message

God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

I experienced one of the worst mornings of my life last week: I had to take my aging, dementia-consumed mama to the dentist. We thought this was just a regular cleaning, but soon discovered she had broken a tooth, an important tooth — a very back molar that serves as the anchor for a large bridge she must wear to give her about 1/3 of the teeth in her mouth.

This required a great deal of work and she was not ready for it. There was no way she could be made ready — it was simply terrifying to her and she did not and could not understand. My task was to bend over her, speaking words of encouragement, holding her hands down so that she didn’t pull out any of the equipment needed to do the work of cleaning up the damage and creating a new crown.

Can I just tell you how desperately I wanted to say this psalm to her, over and over and over again? Because of her hearing loss and because too many words from me would have been impossible in the midst of all that the dentist and his assistant needed to do, I could not say it aloud. 

But I was thinking it! And a whole lotta, “Lord, have mercy!” as well. These are the words that save our lives, aren’t they? I’ve given them to you in a translation that is likely far less familiar than what you’ve heard so many times in your life. I often find it refreshing to see what Eugene Peterson has to say about familiar passages and I am always surprised and gratified by his choices.

The words that grab me in this translation are these: “True to your word, you let me catch my breath . . .” Yes, I needed an entire weekend to catch my breath after this traumatic event. I am grateful that God is, indeed, my shepherd.

Shepherding God, thank you for your continuing care and concern for us, your wayward and broken-down sheep. Thank you for loving my little mama even more than I do and for helping her (and me) to survive that difficult couple of hours. Remind me to breathe, really, truly
b r e a t h e. Thank you.

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  1. Oh, your poor mother, and poor you, Diana! So glad you were able to feel God’s presence through it all, allowing you to catch that much-needed breath.

  2. Margie Bicknell says

    I am crying for you and your mama. I’m not there yet, but my time is racing towards me, and I can cry for you.
    Thy Rod and Thy Staff, they comfort me…
    And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

    These words give me comfort, for I know I can trust in the Lord….but oh, my, watching my mama slowly unwind is so heartbreaking.
    I’ll be praying for you.
    May you find peace and joy in the many memories you have built up with your mom. And may the hard times lead you to love even more.