The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
“Don’t let the age of this book fool you,” my mom said. “Check out page 39.”
I curled my fingers around the tattered copy of Catherine Marshall’s Something More, completely unimpressed. I hate awkward moments, so I pretended not to notice the yellow, outdated pages and took it. If nothing else, I could relate to its worn-out cover.
“Thanks,” I said and tucked it in my purse, planning to keep it long enough so she would forget she’d given it to me.
The past month had been rough, leaving me feeling more like a beat-up old book than the cheerful mom I wanted to be. As I considered my actions, I wasn’t impressed: impatience with the kids, annoyance with every little snag in my day, focused on the negative, and unable to see the positive.
I was suffering from unforgiveness. While I didn’t realize I needed to forgive and didn’t feel like forgiving, I turned to page 39 in Marshall’s book and read:
“(To forgive) can be a simple prayer like, ‘Lord, I release from my judgment.’”
It seemed too easy, but I did know that forgiveness was my only way out of the emotional stew of bad behavior. The trouble was that I didn’t have the energy to feel it or to bring the required oomph this kind of forgiveness required. So with a sliver of hope, I took a breath and read the prayer, filling in the blank. I felt nothing. Zip. Nada. No watershed moment. No holy healing, hands-in-the-air hallelujah. Just me, still sitting awkwardly in the car, still and worn out as the book in my hand. I was unsure of what to do next, but sure that I’d been at this stop sign for far too long — even for a small town. I turned to the next yellowed page and three words stopped me short: “A non-emotional release.”
Non-emotional. That was exactly how I felt. I didn’t feel forgiving, and it would take days for me to notice the change, but in meekly forcing that thought through my head, in saying the words, something shifted. I was no longer in charge of this person’s accountability. I felt light, like my muscles could move, finally out from under the resentment I’d been heaping on week after week.
I am ridiculously capable of building my own prison. God’s gift of forgiveness is like a key. He keeps the original but has gone to the hardware store to make us a duplicate, ensuring we’re never left out in the cold. He first forgives us, then gives us the grace to forgive others even when we don’t feel forgiving, His Spirit loosening hinges we didn’t realize were rusted tight.
And it doesn’t make sense. God’s peace beyond understanding restores my soul for the millionth time, and I’m left with gratitude, like a fresh new book, pages crisp and ready to be turned once again for the first time.
This excerpt is by Evi Wusk, as published in the (in)courage Devotional Bible.
On Saturdays this summer, we’re sharing our favorite Psalms + select devotions from the (in)courage Devotional Bible. We’re loving our summer Saturdays (in) the Psalms with you!
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