I’ve been sending kids to preschool now for nine years. That’s four kids, three girls and one boy, all with different personalities and obviously different birth order.
I’ll tell you what’s the same .
Being the line leader is a big deal.
A really big deal.
I haven’t ever given birth to a child who apparently finds the end of the line satisfactory.
It’s not just line-leading that my kids love. It’s also often been about prime seating spots around classroom tables or for morning circle time.
One of my daughters refused to wear her jacket well into November during her preschool days. We had a big to-do each morning as we headed out the door to preschool. I insisted that it was too cold to go jacket-less; she broke down into hysterics over wearing a jacket. It took me several weeks to root out the cause—hanging up her jacket in the morning slowed her down and meant someone else usually sat next to her best friend at calendar time. She’d rather freeze or come down with pneumonia rather than give up a place next to her buddy.
And then there was another daughter who declined to take dance classes for three months because one little girl always insisted on sitting on the triangle spot instead of taking turns. After all, sitting on the circle was unsatisfactory.
Prime place, favorite positions, the perfect spot–we want to be where we want to be.
And then, sometimes, God puts us down in a place we don’t want to be and it’s a stretch to our souls. Maybe we feel we could snap with the tension and the pull of the longing versus the reality.
Over there is where we want to be, but this is where we are, and that is hard.
It’s when prayers are answered with a “no” or the hoped-for doors close in front of us or the one thing we hoped would never ever happen does happen. It’s loss and grief and brokenness with deep disappointment underneath it all.
Today, I re-read Psalm 23 and I remember what my Good Shepherd does:
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NASB).
The Lord my Shepherd guides and leads me, but He isn’t always leading me where it’s cozy or comfy or always convenient. Instead, He’s leading me in these paths of righteousness “for His name’s sake.”
He’s not working for my pleasure; He’s working for His glory, always for the glory of His name. And that means I might end up munching on some lush grass and drinking down some cool water. Or I could be walking on paths of righteousness that are rockier than I’d like them to be or steep or shaded and deep in the valley.
I have to trust Him, believe deeply and with full assurance that this path He has me on is for His glory and He will lead me where I need to go. He will restore me and refresh me with the meadows and the calm streams when I need them the most.
He will not abandon me.
But I also read this in Jennifer Rothschild’s study, Psalm 23:
I can be wrong even on the right path (p. 99).
It’s not just trudging along that path of righteousness, begrudging, unhappy, complaining, maybe even bitter that makes me right with the Lord. That may be obedience, but it’s not the obedience God desires—the yielded heart, the trust, the love.
My attitude matters.
Jennifer Rothschild says it this way:
We don’t control the path. All we control is our attitude and actions on the path.
So I grieve a little and Jesus understands. He has compassion for me in the middle of the brokenness. He is gracious and gentle as I lay down what I hoped for and what I prayed for.
I give it over to Him and I try to follow my Shepherd on this path of righteousness, this hard and rocky path, with a yielded and trusting heart instead of a begrudging or fearful one.
Because He is my Good Shepherd. And He will work out even the hardest seasons for the glory of His name. And it will be good. And He will refresh and renew. That is who He is and this is what He does.