The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.
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 NLT
(Sorry there's not a linky this week. There was a glitch in the system and I didn't want to hold the post any longer waiting for it to get fixed.)
1 John 4:19
Recently, I decided to finally unpack my books and get them into my new-to-me bookcases, which had sat bare since September. In the process of putting books away I made some exciting rediscoveries. The most exciting of which was finding my very first Bible. I hadn't seen it in years and an overwhelming joy like no other filled my heart to bursting. This very Bible was instrumental in the process of my knowing Christ as I do today. You see, my mother gave it to me when I was 9 years old. I loved going to church in those days and my grandparents had been more than thrilled with fanning that love into flame. I knew and loved Jesus and enjoyed hearing and learning more about Him. Thanks to this Bible, my grandparents and a sweet Sunday school teacher, I discovered my love for Christ in my elementary school years.
A series of unfortunate circumstances caused my family to quit prioritizing the attendance of church. Eventually, my Bible and ultimately my love was put aside to collect dust and be forgotten. After years of living in personal darkness, more circumstances that I-- in my selfishness-- found unfortunate occurred. My father died when I was 15 years old. Soon after his death, my mother met a man who lived in Canada. They were to be married the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. And guess what? We moved to Canada. My mom and brother saw it as an opportunity for a fresh start. I saw it as a nightmare. I was self-absorbed and totally unaware that this would be the thing that God used to wake me up. I felt a loneliness as I had never felt before, having been uprooted from all I knew and cherished. In unpacking, the first rediscovery of my precious dusty Bible occurred.
An inkling of the love that accompanied that Bible was barely discernible. I felt some sentiment but was oblivious as to what was really being stirred in me. After browsing through it a bit, I put it away and the thought that just maybe there really was something to this book called the Holy Bible began to do its work. Shortly thereafter, I realized that I was missing something in my life. I had a gaping hole that needed to be filled. I had no memory of true and lasting happiness. I recognized the void was spiritual, thus the quest for spiritual fulfillment and happiness began. The Holy Spirit began to remind me of the love I once knew. I opened the Bible again and read the words scrawled in my young hand and the passages that once resonated, highlighted and underlined. My heart swelled with love and remembrance that there is a Savior who came to reconcile all people to God and set us free from the bonds of he who rules this world. The answer to my spiritual quest came as a baby, born to a virgin by the Holy Spirit, in a manger, who would grow up to be killed by those He loved most, be buried in someone else's tomb and rise from the dead to gain victory over death for all who believe and accept that it was all for us. Because God first love us.
I found more than happiness. I found the love I had for Jesus again and have clung to Him ever since. I strongly relate to the story Jesus tells of the prodigal son. I knew love, but forgot what it was like once I'd been away a while. God never stopped watching or waiting for me. In fact as soon as I showed a little desire to know Him, it all came flooding back. This Bible is like an altar. I see it and I remember how God brought me to Himself, twice.
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 9-10
Contributed by Sarah Allen