The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart. –Helen Keller
Last night, as I lay in my bed making an attempt at falling asleep, I started worrying about how I was going to divide up my paycheck between rent, gas, food and utilities. I try hard not to think about those sorts of things in bed. You know how it goes – one little thought of “Oh, I get paid tomorrow!” surfaces and then the barrage starts.
The utility companies lob their shells over the border with “Pay me or you won’t have any electricity/cable/water.” Then here comes my car with its shots of “Make my payment and fill my tank or you’ll be walking!” Then from out of nowhere comes the screaming sounds of cat and dog bullets landing right in my heart saying “Feed us! Don’t forget about us! We’re hungry, too!” And finally, when I think the worst is over, here come the bombs from the landlord carving huge holes in my head saying “Pay me or you’ll be out on the street!”
Oh the horror! The humanity! My head! My anxiety level has risen to pandemic proportions so I can forget about sleep now. I can hear the blood pounding in my ears – my blood pressure is really high – this is verified, I remind myself, by me taking my pressure earlier in the evening. Oh the worry! Panic starts to rise in the back of my throat threatening to choke off my oxygen supply.
And then, out of the depths of my heart a still, small voice says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….” The bombs and bullets and shots are still raining down in the background in this battlefield of my brain, but I hold my breath and listen again. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters….”
And without even thinking about it I start to recite the 23rd Psalm in my head. But I can’t remember all of it. What was it now? “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies and what else?” Oh! I can’t remember and the battle gets even louder. I try and try to remember beyond “The Lord is my Shepherd” but I can’t and the bombs and bullets and shots are getting worse and panic is scratching and clawing at my throat.
A still, small voice in my heart speaks again, “Get your prayer book.” Without a moment’s hesitation I get out of bed, go into my study and grab my Book of Common Prayer and bring it back to bed.
And as I lay there, reading Psalm 23 aloud, over and over, the battle slowly starts to go quiet. Panic lets go of my throat, and anxiety gives way to peace and silence in my mind. I venture past Psalm 23 to 24, 25, 26 and finally to Psalm 27. With these words I finally drift off to sleep, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
In the morning nothing has changed in the ‘what-to-do-with-my-paycheck’ arena. But I have changed just a little bit. I will wait on the Lord and He will provide the strength and wisdom to make the decisions that must be made.