Grace felt the cool air hit her bare feet as mom pulled the covers off and shook her awake. She had hit the snooze one too many times again this morning. Now she was really going to have to book it to look halfway decent and still get to school on time. “If I could only get some rest,” Grace thought to herself as she quickly dressed and grabbed a piece of cold toast from her sister’s plate.
Grace had been having trouble sleeping lately – a lot. There was always a sort of knot in her stomach and just when she would feel herself floating off to sleep, some new worry or concern or question would come to mind. It had been that way since Dad had moved out. First it was all the questions about why and when and where. Then it was all the worry about how they were going to pay the bills and would they have to move to a different house or even a different town. And lately it had been the anxiousness about what her friends were thinking about her now and did everyone at school know.
Grace knew that Mom had to be worrying about a lot of things, too. She had overheard anxious words whispered on the phone and seen the brief concern in her mother’s eyes when something unexpected came in the mail. But for the most part, Mom somehow always seemed to have it together. She didn’t seem to be sad or anxious or running behind all the time like Grace.
Grace knew her mom was a Christian and that she was praying and believing that the Lord would bring her dad home. She had often found Mom at the kitchen table, a cup of tea in one hand and her Bible in the other, and had teased her about wearing that book out. Mom had just smiled and given Grace a hug.
Grace wondered, “What is it about that book that gives Mom such a sense of peace? It seems like just a bunch of nice sounding words to me.” Still, later that night when Grace was once again having a tough time sleeping, she slipped out of her bed and tip-toed to the kitchen table. In the dim light from above the sink, Grace could just make out the outlines of Mom’s Bible. She picked it up and thought about what she might read. She remembered people talking about Psalm 23 and how it always brought them peace. So Grace began to read.
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. Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)
Grace closed her eyes and thought about the words she had just read. She could see the peaceful stream and the green meadows. And she could see Jesus reaching out His hand to her to guide her along. It was a wonderful vision, and her heart began to ease just a little.
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. Psalm 23:4 (NLT)
Now Grace could see Jesus close beside her, holding her hand, helping her over the rocks and around the holes as she walked on a path. Even though she didn’t know where she was going and couldn’t see the end from the beginning, she still felt safe.
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. Psalm 23:5 (NLT)
Once again Grace could see Jesus, standing by a bush overflowing with beautiful flowers. Behind the bush was a table on which were many of the things that she was grateful for in her life. Her family, her friends, her church, her school, the lady who had helped her just today gather up the papers that had scattered when her bookbag broke and came open. Grace saw rainbows and stars and sunshine. She saw snowflakes and raindrops and smelled the pine that grew just outside her window. Grace realized just how much she had to be thankful for.
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 23:6 (NLT)
Grace closed her mom’s Bible and held it close to her chest. The words she had read warmed her both inside and out. She felt peaceful for the first time in a long time. As she headed back to her room, Grace knew that she would have restful sleep that night. For God’s goodness and unfailing love was with her.
A Stander in Nebraska