The Shepherd’s Psalm

Standard

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd;

No want shall I know.

He leads me and keeps me

In valleys below.

Beside the still waters,

My soul He will lead.

To luscious green pastures,

He guides me to feed.

When thru death’s dark valley,

No fear shall I know.

His presence will guide me

Wherever I go.

A bountiful banquet

Of plenty I see.

My cup overflows

With rich blessings for me.

God’s goodness and mercy

So boundless and free

He has given to me

For eternity.

My name Rachel means “lamb” so this psalm has always been special to me. You may enjoy reading about how God cared for me His special lamb in “Carried in His Arms”

When Death Hits Home

Standard

 Cody Creech

I’ll never forget that phone call nine years ago.

“Rachel, this is Mom.”

From the tone in her voice, I sensed something was desperately wrong.

She quivered as she told me the news. “There’s been an accident. Cody was hit by a tractor trailer while on his four wheeler. He’s on life support at the hospital.” She barely sobbed out the next words, “They—they don’t think…he’ll make it.”

I was stunned, not knowing what to say. I had just seen my sister a few days earlier. Although miles separated my family from the rest of my extended family, and my sister lived even further away, I had seen my sister for a brief time before she and her family spent a few days skiing over their Christmas vacation.

That mild December night as I walked under the stars in my neighborhood cul-de-sac, I cried out to God to save Cody’s life, but most of all to give my sister and her family His all sufficient grace to bear the grief ahead and the painful decisions that had to be made.

I kept hoping that this was just a bad dream, and that I would wake up to find everything all right. Why would Cody, a bright young boy just shy of his 10th birthday, have to face the grim reaper? Cody was a delightful boy so full of promise. It seemed unfair that my sister would lose one of her two biological children, while I was expecting my 5th child.

I looked up at the stars and imagined Cody’s soul already in heaven. Even as I thought of death, the baby within my womb kicked reminding me of the life growing within me.

Nothing could be done to save Cody’s life. His soul had already left his body; only the life support was keeping his body alive for possible organ donation. On New Year’s Day when everyone else was celebrating, my sister made the painful decision to remove the life support.

Only those who have lost a child understand the deep pain a person experiences at the death of a child. I know the loss of miscarriage, but I still have my five children.

Yes, it hurts to know that you will never see your child on earth again, but we have the assurance that we will one day be reunited with him. The previous summer Cody had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and he is waiting in heaven for us.

Even in his death, Cody made a difference: his organs helped others live. While the pain of death never goes away, you learn to cope and become a stronger person in the process. My sister has helped so many others in so many ways. And after being out of school for so many years, she decided to go back to earn her teaching degree (with highest honors). She is now making a difference in the lives of precious boys and girls as a 3rd grade teacher.

Yes, we miss Cody, but we know that one day death will be swallowed up in victory.

O Death, where is your victory?

O Death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55

Cody Creech Memorial Site

Too Busy For Christmas

Standard

The innkeeper was too busy
to welcome the newborn king.
His family missed the first Christmas
wrapped up in other things.

King Herod missed the first Christmas
He feared the little child.
And sought to kill the Son of God,
the baby meek and mild.

The chief priests and scribes missed His birth,
although they knew He’d come
Their religion was a stumbling block;
they missed the Holy One.

Too many missed the first Christmas—
the birthday of God’s Son.
Too busy with so many things,
they knew not of that One.

Too busy for the greatest gift?
Oh, may it never be!
Will you miss the joy of Christmas?
Open your heart to see.

Don’t miss this blessed Christmas day
wrapped up in petty things.
Remember the reason He came
And make Him Lord and King.

I wrote this poem December 10, 2000 after hearing a sermon about how others were too busy for Christmas. Only the angels and a few shepherds welcomed the Messiah. I pray that none of us become too busy or wrapped up in the busyness of the season that we forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Jesus (Yeshua) is the true reason for the season.

Carried in His Arms

Standard

Over my bed hangs a plaque with my name Rachel, its meaning (lamb, gentle, innocence) and the verse Isaiah 40:11.

He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the LAMBS with His arm
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

This verse took on special significance for me when I was pregnant with my oldest son John. My husband and I found ourselves in a place of uncertainty, not knowing where God was leading us or how He would provide financially. (We were rich in Christ, but very poor in material wealth.) In anxious fear I knelt at my bed and cried out to my Abba Father. Glancing up, I noticed my name plaque and the verse. And in that moment I felt God’s arms around me, reassuring me that He was carrying me–His lamb–in His bosom and that He would gently lead both me and the young child in my womb.

Now 20 years later, my Good Shepherd has reminded me once again that He holds me–His lamb–and my offspring in His arms. The week before traveling to Camp Shelby in Mississippi to say goodbye to my firstborn (who would be leaving for Afghanistan within a week) was full of mixed emotions. I was excited and eager to see my son again after being separated for almost two months, but our brief time together also meant his imminent departure to a dangerous place far from loved ones and my protective arms.

Not by coincidence, the name Jehovah Roi, or God is my Shepherd, was the name of God for the week in Ann Spangler’s Praying the Names of God online devotional. At the same time, God was comforting me through a book that a dear friend gave me (Psalm 91 for Mothers by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angelia Ruth Amy Schum) from which the following is excerpted:

Do you know why God calls us His SHEEP? It’s because a sheep is the only animal that doesn’t have any protection on its own. It is not like a dog that can bark away his enemies or a skunk that can spray out a bad odor to keep from being bothered. Some animals have sharp teeth to protect themselves, but a sheep doesn’t have anything to protect himself–EXCEPT THE SHEPHERD. We are God’s sheep, and Jesus is our good Shepherd. He wants us to know that He is our protector. Just as the shepherds on the hillside protect their sheep, Jesus wants to protect us.

I love my son dearly, but God who made him loves him far more than I ever will. He understands what it is like to send a son as an ambassador to a faraway, dangerous place (John 3:16; Romans 8:32). And He knew long before Jesus came, the indescribable death awaiting Him. Yet, He sent His Son who willingly left the beauty and perfection of heaven to live in a fallen, wicked world that cruelly rejected Him–not because we were worthy, but because of His great love for us even when we were unlovely (Philippians 2:5-8; Ephesians 2:1-7).

Yes, Jesus is my good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10). He covers me under His wings (Psalm 91). I can go nowhere (even to the remotest or most dangerous parts of the world) where He is not (Psalm 139). He is my keeper who watches over me day and night. He never sleeps, but is ever watchful. He is my shade on my right hand, and whether I come or go, He can protect me from all harm or evil (Psalm 121). Nothing or no one can snatch me from His loving embrace (Romans 8:31, 35-39). How comforting to be able to rest in those everlasting arms! (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). I can trust my future (and my children) to the Good Shepherd who carries me in His bosom and gently leads me to places of rest and peace in His wonderful presence (Isaiah 40:11).

How does a mother feel about not being able to hug her son on his 20th birthday? In Happy Birthday in Afghanistan, I share my feelings and reminisce about the snowy December night my eldest son entered the world.

Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the best known and well-loved psalms in the Bible. The Shepherd’s Psalm is a poem I wrote based on Psalm 23.

A Mighty Army (For Generations Yet To Come)

Standard

I see a mighty army of warriors yet to be,
A growing generation beginning their journey
Babies in the nursery, the child upon my knee
Will be the future soldiers pursuing victory.

A generation still to come—the children yet unborn—
We train to bear the good news to a people tired and worn.
This army—are we raising and teaching them what’s true?
Have we shown them how to trust and to live a life for you?

All too soon the time will come when we must pass batons.
We need your grace and seek your face; the battle’s just begun.
Lord, raise a mighty army of souls sold out to you,
A generation ready, your perfect will to do.

Are we telling the next generation of God’s wondrous works? Are we training them to be soldiers in His army? Are we teaching them how to pass the baton to the next generation yet to be?

Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Rachel L. Keller
Written Sunday, November 3, 2013