“He restores my soul”
My wife claims she created some chuckling a week or so ago, when, at a Bible study on Revelation, she told the faithful, in all honesty, that when she thought of heaven, she dreamed of a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota—maybe not in January.
Northern Minnesota may not be everyone's view of heaven, but I know why she said it.
A friend of mine told me a week ago about his daughter, who lives all the way across the state. She and her family have had more than their share of problems—a child with a chronic illness, some long-term unemployment, some scrambling for jobs. This daughter, carting her kids to school one day, called him from the side of a freeway. Her van had broken down. This friend is a mechanic, but he was also 300 miles away.
I could have never guessed how much time and energy a parent can expend worrying about adult children, probably because as an adult child one is pretty much oblivious to how much worry you cause. Our children have also run into their share of problems—unemployment, physical and mental strain, scrambling for jobs. And we worry. Good night, do we worry.
Meanwhile, we’re busy with our own lives—jobs, responsibilities. I’m a church elder; don’t ask me if I’m keeping up. I’m on the road too often, and I’ve always got student papers to read, papers that I should hand back tomorrow.
My father died last year; I really should visit my mother more often, but she’s 500 miles away. My wife’s parents aren’t as well as they’d like to be. Like many others, we’re sandwiched.
So for the first time in thirty years, my wife and I slipped silently away to a rented cabin in Minnesota last month, spent five days—we’re not talking summer here—spent five days away in a north woods resplendent in fall colors. The weather was perfect, the leisure was divine (forgive me, but my wife isn't wrong--it was heavenly).
I was—we were—restored.
For believers, Psalm 23, I’m convinced, is all about maintenance. Shepherd that he is, he leads me beside still waters, he makes me lie down, he takes care of me.
Television and politics lie—life itself is not bowl of cherries or box of chocolates. Endless stuff just has to be done, and too often, it seems, we stub our toes and get those dang paper cuts. We start sagging and parts of us fall out. My back hurts every morning. Bladders weaken. It ain’t pretty.
But he gives us these moments at cabins in Minnesota. He restores us, inside out. The Lord God almighty blesses us by holding us in a huge cupped hand that fits better than any love seat or hammock. He does it, just as David attests. When we’re beat up and beat on, as all of us can be, he restores our very soul.