LIFE LESSONS: Green Pastures
by Cindy Stiverson
It was only thirteen years ago that this Grammy graduated college. I was not a Grammy then. Oh no! I would never have imagined that my life would take the turn that led me there, just six months after my daughter's first day of high school. The summer prior, my husband took his own life. I felt as though I had lost mine. But God was quick to fill in the gap. He led me onward with the intent that I would lead others.
I certainly did not step foot on campus with dreams of ministry in mind. I was going to be a math teacher. He had other ideas. The tugging on my heart was relentless. He was demanding my full surrender to His will, His plans. I could not believe God could ever use this broken life, this battered woman to build His kingdom. "Why would He want Me?" I felt so unworthy, inadequate. My life was ugly, marred, imperfect. How could I possibly reflect Him?
Accepting this call was quite a journey. Walking in it was quite another. By my Junior year, I was fully immersed in my major...and it was a major overload. My daughter and I were both over-achievers. She was in every sport and activity imaginable; I was the supportive mom. While balancing my studies and leading my own activities, I was completing my ministry internship. I began to feel like I was drowning in a sea of to-do's. I was overwhelmed.
In the midst of all that I had To Do, and all the prayers that God would help me to-do all that I had To Do, I got sick in the most inopportune timing. I felt betrayed! I couldn't believe that God had allowed this. I had so much TO DO! It was no accident that I opened my Bible to Psalm 23. As I began to read this ever-familiar passage, I saw it with new eyes, heard it with new ears...
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.He MAKES ME lie down in green pastures...?
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,He LEADS ME beside quiet waters...?
He restores my soul
The Lord was gently reprimanding and reminding me that HE IS IN CONTROL! This was His gig, not mine. He was literally MAKING me lie down, leading me to be QUIET, so that I could hear His voice, and He could RESTORE my soul! And, once I submitted and surrendered to this process, how delicious those green pastures were...the grass was truly greener on His side of the fence!
Besides re-interpreting the 23rd Psalm to my heart, He gave me a new mantra for living. In answer to my prayers as to how I would get through my to-do's, he responded, "Do the next thing first!"
Do the next thing first.
It was the simplest equation. And it worked! I stopped looking at the thing as a whole. Instead, I broke it down to what was required of me each day, each week. Instead of breaking me, I conquered IT! I relied on God's strength, His gentle reminders that He is not a God of chaos. He is a God of peaceful, quiet waters, green pastures. He is our destination of restoration. And, He will tell us what we need to do and when we need to do it. He will give us what we need to get it done!
"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake...Thank you, Lord God, that You are in control. We praise You and give you glory today, in Jesus' name.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.
Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength; and loving and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life.