Updated: Dec 28, 2022
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:2-6, NLT
Parenting is hard. It is overwhelming at times. Heavy. Although our children are not a burden, caring for them and bearing the weight of our own dreams, worries and desires for them sometimes is. When we bear all this ourselves, or even when we share it with a spouse or community, it still can weigh us down. But God brings us such beautiful promises and words of peace if we allow him in his 23rd Psalm. We know it well, and hear it when we attend a funeral; it also can sustain us as we parent day to day.
If we allow Him to, God gives us rest. Sometimes in green meadows, sometimes in a corner of a coffee shop and sometimes in the locked bathroom with noise on the other side of the door. He leads us beside peaceful streams, but are we noticing? Nature is a natural healer, if we allow its peace to infiltrate our hearts and minds. God is the one who renews our strength. When you are weary, do you ask him to invigorate you? When you don’t hear him, try taking a walk outside and noticing how many different shades of the same color exist around you - or how many shapes of leaves there are. God is a god of beauty and design.
When it comes to the direction we are going, God will lead us on the right path, but we have to let him. Seeking his voice and following are the hallmarks of the Christian walk. But when our houses are loud and our quiet time isn’t so quiet, it can be hard to hear THE “still, small voice.” Ask God to speak louder, to show you his intentions in obvious ways and to give you ears to hear and a heart to follow his path for you. If you can keep a list of ways God speaks to you, you will be amazed, over time, how often you see or hear his prompting.
Some are walking through a valley now, and if not now, recently or upcoming. Soak up the comfort of his gentle presence. Know that whatever it is, he can use it for good. Trust his goodness and lean into his presence. Allow the Holy Spirit to surround you and give you peace. Breathe deeply of his love.
His blessings abound. Are you noticing them? Take a minute each day to list all of them. While you brush your teeth in the morning, recount the good things from the day before and ask to walk beside him today. When you brush them before bed, remember his faithfulness of today. Dwell on what is good in your life. Lift up each of your children as the blessing they are. When you surround yourself with his presence all day, you will be refreshed, even in the difficulties. When you know he is always with you, you are dwelling in the house of the Lord. May you feel his calm and gentle presence go with you and lead you as you lead your children.
- Ella Herlihy