Devotional 3/18/2020

I was a junior in high school before I went to my first big party and co-ed sleepover.  This was not because previously my parents had not allowed or that I had not been invited.  But simply even then I liked to go to bed at 9PM which is when things just start going.  

However, this party was different.  All of my friends were going and I thought it would be fun.  And since the parents were going to be there the whole time and were honestly stricter than mine, my parents had no worries when they dropped me off.  

And the evening was filled with what would be considered 'wholesome' or even 'old-fashion' fun.  There was a bonfire, hot dogs and smores, and games like pin the nose on the scarecrow.  Being on a farm, there was plenty of good hiding spots too when we played hide and seek.  

It was then that the hay fight started.  This was my first hay fight, and I quickly discovered I HATED it.  Hay makes me itchy (probably because I have a hay allergy, go figure 16 year old Beth). It is dusty and gets under my contacts. It is hot.  It is never ending.  It is misery.  MISERY!! 

This was all taking place in one of their barns and while the boys had the main entrance blocked, I saw my opening to get away.  Opposite of the main door was a door almost as big, that was unguarded and led to the quiet, cool, non-hay-filled night.  So I took my opportunity and ran.  Right before the door, a plank was missing from the floor but that was not problem.  I jumped it and sailed out into the night.  I was thrilled until I realized there was no ground under me. 

So let us back up a minute to fill in this picture.  This was my first time on this farm and I arrived at dusk so I had not seen it in the light.  And I was not as familiar then as I am now with barn designs.  I was in what was called a bank barn.  On the one side, the ground banks up to the upper floor where you often keep hay or machinery but it is indeed the second floor.  The missing plank was where they dropped food down for the cattle beneath and the 'door' I saw was what they put large amounts of hay in and out through.  

So I was now falling for what is a little more than a normal house story.  And I was scared.  I tried to reach back for the door but my momentum was too great.  I had no idea how far the fall was (since I was not aware of bank barns) and I remembering thinking am I going to be paralyzed, what will I land on, and dang this is probably going to hurt.  

Right now, I think many of us feel that we are falling through the dark.  Months ago when we first heard of COVID-19 it did little to worry us. But then what feels like suddenly the ground has disappeared under our feet.  And honestly, we are like me all the years ago, now mid-fall not sure exactly how the fall is going to end and the damage done. 

And this is worrisome.  It is stressful.  It feels scary.  But through it all, we must remember that while so much has changed in our lives in the last weeks, one thing will always remain the same- God.  God has not changed, nor abandoned us.  God still loves us with a fierceness we cannot understand.  God is still present for us and even now is calling us to give ourselves over more fully to our Lord.  I have found myself turning more and more these days to the Psalms.  In Psalm 46, we are reminded that God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 91 says whoever dwells in the shelter of God will have rest and that God is my refuge and fortress.  

What strikes me about the Psalms is that many were written in the midst of troubles, not after.  The authors often talk about their troubles and enemies as a current issue.  Yet in the midst of a time of darkness they call out in trust to the Lord their God.  They put their faith in God.  They turn to their Heavenly Creator not the world for security and comfort.  

The end of my story is a mostly good one.  I landed in a cow pasture that was softer than normal due to rains.  I did not even break anything.  But I did have a severe bruise on my left ankle that left me with a limp for a month and interrupted my basketball season.  I limped away from my disaster.  And honestly, for a while we are going to limp a little amidst this time.  

But that is not reason for despair or a feeling of being left out in the dark.  The Lord is our refuge, our strength, our companion, our shepherd and our Shepherd.  The Lord is here.  May we lean on God. 

Today I invite you to read some Psalms.  You can start with 46 and 91 if you want or you can even look at random.  But take the time to immerse yourself in the poetry of ordinary people's expression of their trust and comfort in God and the love between them.  Do not read for speed!  Find one that speaks to you right now (there are quite a few so there is one for you!).  And then read it slowly 5 times.  Stop at the end of each time and just breath.  Give space for the words to sink in and then give space to listen for God and to receive peace.  After reading it 5 times, then pray it.  Change it into your own voice and your own words but keep the message.  The psalmists are us and we are them.  Their story is ours and ours is theirs.  Their prayers are ours and ours is theirs.  And certainly their God is ours and ours is theirs. 


Peace and Love,