The theme of the retreat I went on a few weeks ago was on His Goodness. I was pretty happy as God has been magnifying his Goodness to me over and over and over again in the recent months. It kind of ties into "His Favor"... the phrase I felt He gave me in January.
With this goodness theme, Psalm 23 has burst open for me. This psalm has long been a favorite to me bringing me much comfort. In the recent months He has brought my eyes to the last few verses. (these are Tammie's paraphrased version)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, you are with me; your rod and 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 will follow me all the days of my life..
If you put these verses together - picture them as you read them.... where is this table He has prepared? In the valley! In the presence of the things you feared at one point. Now you no longer are in the dark valley (yet you are, as you are brought low, in brokenness that valley caused) yet in that very place.... you find a Feast. Out of that... goodness and mercy and joy and peace and love flow, grow, become yours. He is the Light that dispells the darkness... yet only through that place of death can His Love and Life meet you.
So the theme passage of that weekend....
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Because we know He is with us, we grow to know... He is good, He is strong, He is for us... all the lies begin to break apart... as we learn to know Him.
I am more and more realizing that the tactics of the enemy have not changed since the garden. The deceiver wants us to doubt God, and to try to manage, control, manipulate our lives, our wants, our needs... ourselves. Somehow believing we can do it better, or we are strong enough to be what only God can be... the enemy fools us into thinking... now is better, God is not good... this will bring me happiness, joy, peace... love. These things are from God; anything else is only counterfeit. We really are not even able to define what good is....
“What is it that we really want?” Do we want simply to live well and experience love, joy, peace, patience, etc…? Or, do we want to conquer life on our own and define love, joy, peace, patience, etc…?" Quote by Brad Hambrick
In reading "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" today, I ran across a story of a wise man. To summarize, he kept asking a young man who had good and bad experiences: upon receiving some bad circumstance he would ask "are you sure this isn't a blessing?" and upon receiving some good circumstance, "are you sure this isn't a curse?"
That brought me back to Psalm 23; in the valley's... in our dark moments and places and pits... where we struggle, cry, get confused and hurt and offended and broken... may our eyes keep focused on Who is With us... and rejoice, as in that place He is preparing a Table loaded down with the richest of fare because He loves us and yes, is so very Good!