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In July of 2022 my first assignment at Grace Church was to rest. I was joining the staff of Grace from Circle Community Church, shortly after we merged. The leadership kindly sent my husband and me to a resort to relax and recover from the stress we had endured. 

But “rest” didn’t happen. Instead, we were scrambling to find homeowner’s insurance after learning our roof did not pass inspection for a new policy. Lounging by the pool with a book was replaced with phone calls and frustrated pacing in our room. In the end, my husband was able to patch the roof, buying us 3 to 5 years before we’d need to replace it. 

Fast forward one year, and it’s moving day for my father-in-law! Acting as our own general contractors, we had completed the 22-month project of converting our detached garage into a studio apartment for him. After seven years of living downstairs, he was ready to change his status from roommate to neighbor, and we were excited to become Empty Nesters at last! Though we were depleted physically, emotionally, and financially, we sat down in our quiet living room with a cup of coffee and celebrated our success. 

Presently, I looked up and saw the water stain on the ceiling. I immediately felt fear grip my heart as I realized that we would have to come up with the funds for a new roof before our homeowner’s insurance was canceled again.

Come up with the funds? How? Where? 

How quickly we allow our rest to become distracted by fear. How quickly we forget the goodness and character of God.    

The Antidote to Fear

“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” (Psalm 23:4).

For He is with me. 

King David penned these words. When he was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, God sent him directly back to the sheep. Guarding and tending sheep takes full attention and focus. How better to learn how to shepherd God’s people? Who better to understand the fragile and flighty actions of a flock than a shepherd? 

Christ Himself is aware of every struggle and fully committed to us in every moment. It is this realization that allows us to rest without the distraction of fear. A sound mind is one that is at ease – at peace. Can a mind be diverted with fear of the future when it is fixed on God’s deep love and commitment to His children instead of circumstances? Even if a financial due date is missed or a job lost, is He still faithful? Will He change His mind about us?  He is good, and He will not forget us. He is not only well aware of our current needs, but He understands our future needs.

The sheep fear no evil because of the very real presence of the Shepherd.

  1. Phillip Keller, who owned sheep, wrote a beautiful perspective on Psalm 23 in A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm. He writes, “It is the special office work of God’s gracious Spirit to convey this sense of the Christ to our fearful hearts. He comes quietly to reassure us that Christ Himself is aware of our dilemma and deeply involved in it with us. It is in fact in this assurance that we rest and relax.”

“I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, LORD, make me safe and secure” (Psalm 4:8).

Like the rod and the staff that guide and protect the sheep, I am safeguarded by the purest truth found only in God’s word. It outweighs any thought I may have or circumstance I may be in. It is my most blessed assurance, and I am comforted.

A Simple Practice for Remembering God’s Presence

Thankfully, just moments after staring at the water stain on my ceiling, my eyes turned to the new apartment. Twenty-two months ago, we did not have the funds or the knowledge to complete that task, yet God provided both.

Then Samuel took the stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us” (I Samuel 7:12b).

Ebenezer. Stone of help.

Like Samuel, we wanted a physical reminder of who God is; our protector. Our provider. We mixed some of the concrete that we had used on the apartment floor into a bucket, forming a mold for our Ebenezer stone. Currently, my husband is using a hammer and chisel to make it appear more like a rock and less like a bucket, leaving a blank surface where we can add these words, “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.” In the future, when we are distracted by fear once again, our eyes will see it, and we will remember His goodness and rest.

Any object that reminds you of God’s faithfulness can serve as an Ebenezer. What could you set in a prominent place in your home to remind you of God’s heart when the valley is dark? 


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