I’m one of those people who loves the start of a new year. Not because of the fireworks or holidays or any of that but because of the idea of a fresh start. Forget what’s happened, leave behind the regrets, leave behind the pain and those things that have held me back and start anew. There’s such beauty and freedom in a fresh start – even if it’s only in my head.
That didn’t exactly happen this year. The thought of asking God for a word for the year or setting goals or even just thinking about something new was one thing too many on an already overwhelming list. Instead of being excited about a new year, I kind of staggered into it – exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, and grieving alongside so many Australians as we helplessly watch our country burn.
Even reading my Bible seemed a bit much. Not that I didn’t want to, just that I couldn’t handle another person or verse telling me I needed to do something. Care more. Love more. Pray more. Be more hospitable.
I just didn’t have any more.
So, I opened my Bible to Psalms. Psalm 23, to be exact. The first psalm I ever memorized in full as a three- or four-year-old. The one I could say without even thinking. The one with no chance of having hidden words or meanings in there anymore because, seriously, after thirty years of holding on to it, hearing it preached on, reading about it in books, seeing framed on walls, wouldn’t I have found them all?
I love how wrong I was.
Over the first week of 2020, I read that psalm, over and over again. Just one psalm. And in it, I found comfort. Because in that psalm, I found not only a shepherd, but so many different names for God – every one of which I could spend the rest of 2020 delving into the depth of.
And in those, I’ve been reminded that yes, I might be overwhelmed, but I don’t face any of this life alone. When I’m exhausted, he offers me a place to catch my breath. When I’m afraid, he walks beside me. When it’s all too much, and I don’t even know what to pray, he fights for me. When I feel like this pain will never end, he reminds me that there’s hope and what I see now won’t last forever. There’s a place for me at his table. His arms are waiting for me to crawl into, even if all I do is sit there and cry.
So, as a new year and all its highs and lows begin, let me pass it on to you:
When you’re exhausted, God offers you a place to catch your breath. When you’re afraid, he walks beside you, your guide, protector and companion. When it’s all too much, and you don’t even know what to pray, he fights for you. When you feel like this pain will never end, he reminds you that there’s hope and what you see now won’t last forever. There’s a place for you at his table. His arms are waiting for you to crawl into, whether it’s to excitedly spill about all the thrilling things happening in your life or simply sit there and cry. Because you know why?
The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters.
True to his word, he lets me catch my breath
And sends me in the right direction.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley
I’m not afraid, for he walks at my side,
His trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
He serves me a six-course dinner
Right in front of my enemies.
He revives my drooping head;
My cup brims over with blessing.
His beauty and love chase after me
Every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God