KNEE DEEP ~ in the 23rd Psalm


A path sunny

The Living-Word jumped out at me in a way I’d not seen before.

The 23rd Psalm has been my go-to for perhaps twenty-five years. That would be since I was saved. In that time, I’ve always thought ‘paths of righteousness’ would look something like this lovely photo. I thought those paths would have been put there by God for me to follow and they’d have sunlight and birds singing.

Today the words ‘paths of righteousness’ jumped out at me in a new way. They became living words, or rhama words. That is specific words from the Lord that sort of explode in a person’s consciousness and have special meaning. This is something that can happen to any believer, every believer. I think it most often happens during private devotions when reading and meditating in Holy Scripture, or some other devotional literature, or when deeply listening to worship music.

A path trees

Today I saw ‘paths of righteousness’ as paths other Christians have walked, perhaps even blazed…and I have followed in those paths where these righteous brothers and sisters have trodden. They may not always be bucolic paths where songbirds flit here and there filling the air with their song. Those paths could have hills, bumps, ruts, places where stalwart believers stumbled and got up again, places where the enemy lay in wait.

I got saved during a time of conflict in my husband’s family. Neither he nor I came from an idyllic Christian home where hymns were sung and where family members prayed together. This particular Sunday there was a huge and tumultuous family commotion, mostly in the kitchen. People had been running in and out of the house. Voices had been raised. I retreated to the living room to get away from it, started surfing channels, and found Gloria Copeland. She was smart, obviously extremely well versed in the Bible, and she didn’t have big hair. At the end of the program, I put my hands on the television and gave my life to the Lord. That was twenty-five years ago.

So, this morning, I’m thinking who blazed those paths for me? At that time, I didn’t know anything about Christian churches. I kept watching Christian TV and came under Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Kenneth and Gloria have had the greatest influence upon me in my walk with God. They are my parents in the faith. I soon bumped into a local woman who was under their ministry. Lillian and I began sharing cassette and video tapes (the dark-ages of audio and video). I’d go to her house and she’d come to mine, and we’d be so excited about the Lord.

Very soon, I learned that Oral Roberts was Kenneth’s father in the faith and I began listening to Oral Robert’s Ministry teachings. Of course the prime message at ORM is “God is a good.” And Oral always said, “Something good is going to happen to you today.” I took a course in the Holy Spirit from ORM and received a certificate. In those days, they sent you the lessons by snail mail. You returned your answers by mail, and they sent the corrected lesions back to you. Well, we’re talking 24-25 years ago. So, Oral Roberts became my grandfather in the faith.

I wish I could say there was a local minister/ministry, in that time, that blazed a path for me, but I can’t. I lived in an area where almost all of the charismatic churches had had church-splits and none of them had recovered from that. So, Christian television became my lifeline.  I met another woman who believed the Word as I did and Theresa and I also began sharing and praying together. She and I became volunteers in the Protestant Chaplain’s Office at the local Veteran’s Hospital and attended Sunday services there. We also attended a weekly Bible study and a weekly prayer group there.

Back to trail blazers. I soon found Joyce Meyer, who to me is the Mother of Independent Women of Faith. I particularly liked her practical preaching because she didn’t come from a wonderfully serene Christian home. She came from a nonChristian home with turmoil. I said, okay, I can relate to that.  I was then, and still am now, the only member of my immediate family and almost the only member of my large extended family who knows the Lord. My cousin and his wife on the other side of the county are believing Christians, and I am in contact with them electronically.

Today, I live in northeast coastal Florida where I attend Destiny Church. I’m waiting for the church to reopen from Covid 19. I so want to “do church” again.

Who are your spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith? Whose footsteps have you followed? Who has helped to shape your faith?

Come Out of the Shadows ~ the shadow of death

Woman Free, Field

He’s gone, or she’s gone. Sometimes the difficult memories with some guilt attached come easier than memories of the happy times. That’s because the loss of a spouse is so great, sometimes the remembrance of the happy times is too painful. Sounds strange, but it’s true. Widow and widowers know what I’m talking about.

He or she will never laugh again. Or, I fell in love with him or her the first time she or he smiled just that certain way and I’ll never see that again. Strange as it is, the self-condemning memories almost feel better, less painful. ~~ It might not be self-condemnation. It might be that the loss is so deep, the pain actually feels good. These feelings are normal, but should only last for a season. The time must come when you allow gentle joy to come at the memory of your spouse…that your memories are couched in sweetness.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. ~ Romans 8:1 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

But what if the marriage had problems? What if it wasn’t ideal? Yet you still miss him or her, still love your spouse? That’s also normal, natural, not unusual, not stupid. What if because the marriage had problems, now that he or she is gone, you, the surviving spouse have guilt. You tell yourself, “I could’ve been nicer to him or her. Could have been more present in the marriage, more understanding.” Maybe so, but it still stands this is only a season during the mourning process. The Lord wants his children free of condemnation. Confess what you have to confess. Forgive your spouse. Forgive yourself, and come out into the light. Forgiveness is intentional. You may have to forgive your spouse and/or yourself over and over as you walk through this journey back into the light. And that’s okay.

In the light of Christ, work on relationships with people who are in your daily life now. What can you do to make the relationships you are in become more joyful, healthier? Can you let the little things go? At home, at church, at work…what are the small things that annoy you? Make a short, easily manageable list if you have to. Don’t make a list so long it will overwhelm you and make you further heap coals on yourself.

What’s really inconsequential in the long run? Pray over the list and intentionally let those things go. Let yourself see your own freedom in letting the angst go you’ve felt due to the little things on that list.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. ~ Psalm 23:4 [King James Version, KJV]