I find myself surrounded by special “days” this month. Snow days ushered in January while yesterday was MLK day. And for those who observe it, Sanctity of Life Sunday was two days ago. More, my birthday is this Saturday. Not only do I share the day with my brother (who’s two years older), but also, I share it with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And here we are today…
Another snow day.
I’ll be honest, I’m not usually fond of snow days. I love to watch it coming down and don’t mind being outside in it. And aside from the effort of walking back up, I do like to sled down our driveway with the kids. It’s the mess I dislike. Coming in afterward and draping soggy clothes everywhere to dry out. Extra towels. An extra load of laundry. I know, this sounds very much like a complaint, so I’ll stop there.
That’s not the main reason why snow days bring me disturbance, anyway.
Have you entered the storehouses of snow or observed the storehouses of hail, which I hold in reserve for times of trouble… Job 38:22
Basically, snow days disrupt my routine. They throw things off course and mostly, they slow me down. Thus, the rigid woman I can be, bound to a schedule and a plan of my own making, can easily fall into a funk by what I deem to be delay. Yes, in my book, that would aptly describe a snow day.
A big fat delay.
But you know what? I’ve come to realize they’re so more than what I feel. Because the past two weeks have served to teach me God ordains them. And He, who is sovereign, planned them. And if I submit by giving in to the slower pace of the day, He can shepherd me by it. But when I resist?
Well, that would be me shepherding (guiding) myself. That’s when angst sets in.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures… Psalm 23:1-2
I just wrote about this subject on the heels of the last snow days, and I thought I was done with the matter. However, it appears God has more to say on the issue. And seeing this week is bookended by monumental days, His teaching is quite timely. Providential, even.
Because me and snow days have a history. As I recently shared in my last blog, snow covered the ground when I wondered if I were pregnant. I was twenty-two but alas, the Lord was not my Shepherd. No, I was my own guide, led by a fierce sense of longing and want. And my pace was hurried and hectic. Oh, I always moved too fast in every way. Thus, without thinking, I chose the unthinkable.
No, seems nothing could deviate me from my plans.
And as for today? I realize I still have a choice. I can submit to God’s guidance and plans, or mine. Unfortunately, at the beginning of last week, I chose my own. Because snow days hindered my at-home job, the work eeked into special days I set apart for a big project. By Tuesday night, just a week ago, I was foul. I told my husband I felt beat up. And at the time, I felt provoked by the devil.
Today, though, I know it was me using the prod…
I was driving myself at an unreasonable pace. Forcing myself to hurry so I could get to what I wanted. Reaching for the thing I aspire to attain, but delays only push it that much further out.
You know, my lord, that the children are frail and need gentle care, and the nursing flocks and herds (with young) are of concern to me; For if the men should drive them hard for a single day, all flocks will die. Please, my lord, go on ahead of his servant and I will move on slowly, governed by the pace of the livestock that are in front of me and according to the endurance of the children… Genesis 33:13-14
I read this passage yesterday and it caused me to take notice. Because no doubt, God reveals much through it in conjunction with these snow days. Well, in conjunction with any perceived delay. Because that’s how I’ve looked at this past month…
Snow days capping off holidays turned a two-and-a-half-week holiday into nearly three weeks. Add in a busier than expected work week, and faulty perspective suggests I’m a month off course. And despite my hectic pace, I still feel behind. But God reveals I’m right where I need to be. Because through it all, He’s teaching me to follow His lead.
And His pace is often slower than mine.
Through the words of His chosen servant, Jacob, He provides illumination. Jacob, who hurried away from his hometown because of his rash actions. Jacob, a former man of the house who was transformed into a shepherd. Jacob, who learned about driving cattle and sheep. And who knew the young, and their mothers, needed to move slowly.
That’s what God has been trying to teach me. He reveals my hurried, hectic pace negates all traces of tender care and gentleness. More, it’s not God who drives me so hard, it’s me. I’m the one who pushes and pokes and prods…
I feel beat up and knocked about. Driven severely (all definitions of “drive them hard”). A week ago, I felt all this because I am a driven woman. I drive way too hard.
And way too fast.
If I let it, Genesis 33 can be life-changing. Because God gives me my pace. “Governed” by the pace of the livestock… and according to the endurance of the children. It’s all in that passage. Under His shepherding hand, I am led on softly and with care. And in stages. More, He leads me to rest. And most incredibly and awe-inspiringly, He leads me through my children.
They’re the pace car. They cause me to slow down. But only when I yield.
And if I can take it to heart, this becomes the greatest lesson of my life. And I absorb here it in the midst of monumental days. Because this week is bookended by Sanctity of Life Sunday and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And monumental days give way to colossal enlightenment…
Because at twenty-two, I refused. I was not governed by the pace of my unborn children. The Lord was not my Shepherd, and guided by my own harsh hand, I was driven too fast to operate life safely. Driven to leave both God’s plan and my children behind. And this is one of life’s greatest tragedies.
That fact is, though, it can still happen. Left unchecked, I can do the same. Because inadvertently, when I operate life at a breakneck speed, my living children can be left behind in the stirred-up dust.
This is truth.
And so, I see the choice remains. Every day, I get to choose life or death. But I have to tell you, sometimes it feels so hard to choose wisely. Because choosing life at forty-eight means putting aside all my plans. It means giving way to the slower pace yielded by a snow day. Because the kids are at home.
However, when I make them the plan, my plan lines up with God’s…
So very different than the younger woman I was…
Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:16
He also chose David, His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the ewes with nursing young. He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people. So David shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands. Psalm 78:70, 72
I was a shepherd in our Christmas play this year. In preparation, I read all of the passages pertaining to Jesus’ birth, and Matthew 2:6 resonated. Because not only was the forthcoming Jesus described as Ruler and Governor, but also Shepherd. ” Jesus would shepherd God’s people.
And though I don’t always yield to His prodding (pace or direction), He does certainly lead me. Eventually, I find myself turning the way He points. And when I do, I discover He gives me both what I need and what I want. And as always, it’s not what I’ve been chasing. It’s them.
Yes, my family plays a huge part in the lesson of my life, that of choosing life. Because in facing God, He forever faces me toward them. He reminds me of my nursing young. My flock. And though they’re not babies, anymore, they still need to be fed. Both physically and spiritually. And that’s one of the definitions for shepherding…
In addition to everything else, it means to feed, pasture, graze.
But see, God wants me to do it like King David. According to the integrity of my heart. That means fullness or completeness. And with skillful hands. That means spoon, hollow, or palm. Do you see it?
My heart can’t be full of angst caused by longing and want, it must be full of Him. And my hands can’t be full of everything I cling to. Instead, I have to let go of that which displaces my childrens’ feed. Because if I don’t, they go hungry…
And that’s not what a good shepherd does.
See, the flock needs to be fed.
When the layer of dew evaporated, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine, flake-like thing, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:14, 15
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lay down. He gives me rest. And sometimes, He governs my pace with snow days. But like the Israelites, I was confused when they first began to hinder my progress years back.
Why the delay, I wondered. Is it me? God? The devil? But now I know.
It’s how He feeds me. It’s part of my sustenance. Like manna in the desert, snow-white flakes from heaven serve to provide me with my daily bread. It’s what the Good Shepherd offers from the hollow of His hand. And if I’m wise, I’ll remember it. And oh, I pray I do.
Because that way, I’ll no longer resist. Or push so hard chasing my agenda. Because I know He sends them…
God uses them and rules through them. He redirects and slows. And unlike last week, I thank Him for today’s. Because through it, He deepens the lesson of choosing life. And because it’s a new day, He gives me yet another opportunity to make that choice. And I tell you, choosing life at forty-eight looks a lot different than it did at twenty-two…
Because there was no struggle for the younger me. No fight. Nothing was going to slow or deter me from my plans. Today, though, I can. I struggle because laying down “mine” for theirs can be hard. But inevitably, I always come around. And in the end, I make them my plan. And this is how I choose life at forty-eight. I put my flock first…
Because as He teaches me, that’s what a good shepherd does.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11