My hands gripped the steering wheel, my mouth was pulled taut, and my eyes squinted to discern the lines on the interstate through sheets of rain. I heard the peaceful breathing of my sleeping children in the backseat, blissfully unaware of the terror seizing my heart as I drove through minute after minute of pouring rain on the starless Sunday night.
At first, my mind filled with anxious “what ifs.” What if we hydroplane into a ditch and no one finds us?
Then it drifted to resentful regret. Why did I think driving to my grandparents’ house by myself at night would be easier than the daytime?
Finally, fear overcame my mind, and all I could think about was the next mile marker indicating we were one step closer to safety.
Like my daughter’s foot searching for the next rung of the ladder at the playground, my heart stretched to remember some biblical truth to provide a sturdy foundation as my car shook from the storm’s wind. Slowly, I felt the Holy Spirit renew my mind, comfort my heart, and remind me:
God is my Shepherd, and I am his little lamb. He feeds me. He guides me. He looks after me. I have everything I need.
I snorted in incredulous laughter, though the pounding rain drowned out the sound of it. Of the hundreds of Bible verses I have stored up in my heart, why would the Spirit brings to mind a children’s board book retelling of Psalm 23? At first I fought his comfort—surely there was something powerful, more theological, to help me get through this anxiety.
Instead, with each successive mile marker and thunder of lightning, the Spirit repeated this refrain over me: He keeps me safe. He rescues me. He makes me strong and brave.
The next morning, I noiselessly pulled out my Bible to read before my children woke up in the adjacent room of my grandparents’ house. I massaged my shoulders, still feeling the effects of tension I had for the three-hour drive.
I tugged the ribbon in my Bible, holding my place in my reading plan, and the book fell open to John 10.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14, 27).
I felt the warmth of my Shepherd’s embrace. It was not the seemingly trite rhymes that had stilled my heart and mind in the storm the previous night, it was the strong voice of my Shepherd calling to me in the storm, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39). He had been with me all along last night, beckoning me to himself, reminding me of the truth I could discern through the darkness.
Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid. Because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me.
My favorite genre of fiction is mystery. I’m obsessed with finding the clues—the little details that give you the swell of satisfaction in the end when you proclaim—“I knew it!” I prefer the predictable mystery novels, in a way, ones that give me the illusion that if I just pay close enough attention, I don’t have to be surprised by the ending. I won’t be afraid when the culprit jumps out, because I knew he was there all along. I believe that if I have more information, I will be less afraid.
We often believe that to prepare ourselves for tragedy, we need a theological treatise of suffering or a systematic doctrine of evil to survive the hardship. While accumulating such knowledge is good—the Bible teaches us to store up God’s word in our hearts—when we idolize such knowledge, we believe that our own understanding is the cure for suffering.
On the road the night before, I wanted a promise from God that he would keep me from harm. I wanted the statistics on road-related accidents on this stretch of interstate. I wanted the safety data on my Honda Odyssey. I believed that more information would turn my anxiety into peace.
However, it’s not greater knowledge that can give us peace. It’s the presence of our God with us. In those moments of fear, we don’t need more information to prove our safety or a systematic theology of fear. We need to listen for our Shepherd’s voice.
It’s no coincidence that many of the biblical commands to “fear not” are accompanied by the promise that our God is with us. “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God does not always promise to tell us the who, what, when, where, and why, but he does promise that he will be with us through it all.
I don’t know what fears you face today. While my fear driving through the storm lasted only three hours, maybe your storm has lasted for three months, or even three years. Maybe you are tense from holding onto the steering wheel, begging God for a clearer vision or an easier road. Maybe you’re so angry and tired that you’ve closed your ears, but he’s still speaking to you. And if you listen as a sheep attentive to his shepherd, you will hear him speaking the same simple but powerful truth over you:
God is my Shepherd. And I am his little lamb.
He feeds me. He guides me. He looks after me.
I have everything I need.
Inside, my heart is very quiet.
As quiet as lying still in soft green grass in a meadow by a little stream.
Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid.
Because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me.
He keeps me safe. He rescues me.
He makes me strong and brave.
He is getting wonderful things ready for me.
Especially for me. Everything I ever dreamed of!
He fills my heart so full of happiness
I can’t hold it all inside.
Wherever I go I know
God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love will go, too.
(Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones)
1 thought on “The Lord is my Shepherd￼”
This is so very good, Bethany. I commented on the site, as well as forwarding this to different ones. Love you. CeeCee
On Fri, Jan 21, 2022 at 7:08 AM The Dwelling Word wrote:
> bethanygwb posted: ” My hands gripped the steering wheel, my mouth was > pulled taut, and my eyes squinted to discern the lines on the interstate > through sheets of rain. I heard the peaceful breathing of my sleeping > children in the backseat, blissfully unaware of the terror se” >