Have you ever felt like you've been put out to pasture for a season?
Well, I have. My user name, Susan in the Boonies, wasn't chosen as lightly as you might think.
For 14 years of my life, I attended a class called Bible Study Fellowship. It is a wonderful organization that served as a vehicle for me to keep myself accountable to other women to stay in God's Word. I love the Bible. And I love the way God's Holy Spirit teaches me about God when I study the Bible.
But, I'll be honest here, it's not always easy for me to keep on renewing my mind through studying God's Word. And BSF was a great way to help me do that regularly. As a result, my relationship with God grew by leaps and bounds. My children have come to know God through studying His word through that fine program.
After I had been in BSF for a few years, they asked me to serve as an adult discussion group leader. And it was through the intensity of that experience that I found some of the deepest satisfaction I have ever enjoyed in my life. I loved the challenge of deeper study that being a leader presented to me. I loved shepherding my little group of 15 women each year - of watching them apply God's Word to their lives, of having the privilege of knowing them, and loving them, and praying for them. I think the thing I loved the most was getting on my knees every Monday morning in a room full of 50 other leaders who were also on their knees, and pouring out our hearts to the Lord in praise, and then making our requests known to Him too. It truly was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It made my joy meter go, "Bing! Bing! Bing!!!"
I am a homeschooling Mom, and by the time my second child, my daughter, was ready to enter the first grade, I could no longer give up two mornings a week to BSF (one morning was for leadership training, and one morning was for the actual study itself). And so, somewhat regretfully, I said goodbye to that study, at least for the foreseeable future, And shortly after that, we moved out here to the Boonies, away from most of my familiar haunts and friends. And then we changed churches.
So, a lot of my props got knocked out from underneath me.
Don't get me wrong: I love living in the Boonies. It's beautiful and peaceful here in the woods, and we have lots of lovely neighbors.
But every once in a while, I do feel as if I've been put out to pasture.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well, today's psalm, Psalm 126 reminded me a bit of my own situation.
The psalmist talks about the Glory Days of the past, when the Lord first brought the exiled Jews back to their homeland, and then expresses his hope for the future, even though it sounds like they're walking through a bit of a dry time, at present. Here's the text of the original:
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Things weren't all peachy in Jerusalem when they got back, and a lot of hard work lay in front of them..
So, I guess I kind of relate in my own way, my Glory Days in BSF, when I saw myself as a part of a group that God was using powerfully in His kingdom. And I wonder how He can possibly use a Boonie Woman.
As a part of my assignment for the Beth Moore study that I am presently participating in, I am supposed to rewrite this psalm in such a way that it is applicable to my own life. So here's my own little version of Psalm 126,
When the Lord was using me strongly in former days
I felt so deeply fulfilled.
I laughed with those dear friends
and celebrated the goodness of God with them.
And it was said within our community,
"The Lord is doing great things through them."
The Lord HAD done great things through us,
and we were joyful.
Restore my usefulness, Lord
Let Your Spirit well up within me like a life-giving spring in the desert.
If I plant Your Word in tears,
Let me reap a harvest of righteousness in joy.
Though I struggle along now,
dragging my bag of seed behind me,
Let me return from my harvest with overwhelming joy,
my arms filled with fruit that will last for eternity.
In one of the comments on my last post, my pal Val, who was one of my roomates in Switzerland, reminded me of a story I was a part of, but had forgotten, over 25 years ago.
When I first arrived in Switzerland, my sweet roomies kept telling me every day about the beautiful French Alps that lay just across the lake from Lausanne, Les Dents du Midi. Each day on our walk to the University, they would say, "Oh, you should see those mountains. They're just right over there." And every day, for weeks and weeks, they were covered by fog and clouds, and mist, and all I could see was white. (I arrived in January, and this is pretty normal for Lausanne in January.) And then one day, miracle of miracles, we had a clear day. The mists parted, and there across the lake stood those gargantuan, breathtakingly lovely mountains. They had been there all along, only we truly couldn't see them.
So, my hope is, that even put out to pasture for the moment as I am, that behind those clouds, God is still using me in ways that aren't easily apparent to me at present. That I am a useful servant to Him, a part of what He is doing in the grand scheme of His kingdom.