Thou Preparest A Table
How does a child of God prepare for major surgery? I was far from calm as I perched on the unfamiliar terrain of the hospital bed. Pretty new pajamas only added to my stress, making me feel self-conscious in the middle of that sunshiny day.
I was reading the twenty-third Psalm, trying to equip my spirit for the battle by reviewing those comforting words about the Shepherd's bountiful provision for His sheep.
1.The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
3. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Every verse was alive with meaning, and I began to sense His dear Presence with me, even in that foreign place.
"The Lord is my Shepherd," I reminded myself as I tried to glean the deeper truths from each verse. "It is He Who led me to these particular 'green pastures' at this precise time. He'll give me peace, and calm my fears. This path is the one He has chosen for me." I fervently desired to trust Him completely, but I was finding it a difficult task.
The "shadow-of-death-verse" was hardest. I could die during surgery! But I didn't want to die and leave my beloved family! Could they possibly cope without me? (Now I hope you will not see me as totally self-centered here; I'm not claiming to be "Perfect Mom." Some other time we may look at the other side of that coin, but these were my thoughts that day in Sunbury Community Hospital.)
I thought of each one, and our special relationships. I'm the one who abandons the dishes in the sink to go look at a horrible bug with Billy. I trim and arrange myriad bunches of wildflowers and weeds picked by Carol. Bill and I walk through our green, peaceful valley and talk together. Amy's constant diet talk falls on my listening ears. Cindy and Sue come for lunch and share the problems of their working world with me. I love my family. I pray for them. How could they manage if I died?
But I had to believe that God is sufficient for their many needs, even without my assistance. If He wanted me to go home to heaven, I knew my Lord would help each one through it. Indeed, He'd help them throughout their lives, because He loves them even more than I do. "I will fear no evil."
Of all the six verses, one became especially precious; one phrase my shield against all fear. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Who are my enemies? I wondered, and the answer came swiftly to mind--"My enemies are the Powers of Darkness who want my spiritual defeat and physical disaster. But I need not be afraid because 'THOU preparest a table!'"
With sudden clarity, it dawned on me -- "The Lord is preparing the operating table for me!" WOW! If God prepares the operating table, I have absolutely nothing to fear! Everything is in His hands -- doctors, anaesthesia, blood pressure, heart-function, everything! Imagine that! God is preparing the operating table for me!
If I had felt His presence before, it was vastly magnified as I pondered the amazing, comforting words. My blood pressure, I'm sure, dropped to a level of near-perfection as I reveled in the Father's love for me. Not only was God with me in the hospital, but He revealed His individualized care through that unique application of Psalm 23:5. Please do not misunderstand me; I am declaring that God Himself gave me that assurance as I pondered the verses of the Psalm. He is a personal Father. Although the writer of the verse had no knowledge of operating tables, the same God who inspired David to write those symbolic words was using them to help me face the table of fear that awaited me.
Thou preparest an operating table before me in the presence of my enemies! Thou annointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over!
What kind of God are You, Who would reach down and speak to me in such a precise way? How you assured my heart of your love! How clearly You told me You would be there every moment. How kindly You showed me that, whatever happened on that table, it was prepared by You.
From that moment, calmness and peace overwhelmed me as I waited for -- no, looked forward to -- the formerly-dreaded operation on that table prepared by God. I knew I was totally, trustingly in His wonderful Father hands.
THOU PREPAREST A TABLE!