We begin with the 23rd Psalm.
We begin, specifically, with the first verse:
The Love is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
Notes taken from the book (God's Psychiatry):
As the sheep in David's flock laid down in the fold, night after night, able to find sleep without care, so can I. They (the sheep) do not worry about tomorrow. What they know is simple: today, I was cared for. Tomorrow, I will also be cared for.
Mother's notes in the margins:
My Notes: Mother believed in tithing! She was taken care of financially by her mother and father until she married my father. From then on, she was taken care of by him.
Like so many women of her era, Mother made homemaking and mothering her full time job. Every morning, we were served a full breakfast, hot, right off the stove. The house was kept immaculate. One of my favorite old photographs of Mother shows her with a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other. The expression on her face reads, "Beware dust and grime! I'm on the warpath!" Homemade cookies awaited my brother and me every afternoon after school. When my father walked in the door at the end of his workday, he was greeted with a kiss, followed by a hot supper on the table no latter than 6:30 p.m. Mother loved what she did, and she did it well.
But, in 1979, after 24 years of marriage, my mother and father separated (they would not divorce for another five years); Mother had to step into a new role, that of employee.
Finding work in a small town is not easy, especially for a middle-aged woman without "skills," but she managed. Between a part-time job and the sewing she took in (along with spousal support), Mother was able to eek out a living. She shared with me often that, "If I make $3 hemming a pair of slacks, I put 30 cents in the offering plate on Sunday." She also shared, "I don't know where the money is coming from, but God is providing for me." Eventually she went to work for the Board of Education, full-time, but never making more than just a little over minimum wage.
When Mother died, her "checkbook" proved two things:
1. She tithed faithfully
2. God faithfully provided.
On the way from Asheville, NC (where Mother died) to my hometown (where she would be buried), my brother said to me, "Not to be nosy, but what are you going to do with your half of the money?" Part of me thought, "What money?" But another knew that Mother had been tithing ...and ...investing. It had all come together to work out very well for her.
Now, Mother did not live as someone who had the amount of money she had. She didn't over-spend nor did she want for anything. God always provided.
And, she trusted that He always would. Now, I hope to carry that tradition forward with my own children. I hope they, too, can one day look at my checkbook and see how I tithed and, subsequently, how God held up his end of the bargain.
This is also not about how much money was left to my brother and me in Mother's will. This is about God's provision to Mother and how her trust in Him (proven by her tithe) always led to that provision.
Mother also wrote: Put your name; and, Personal.
My Notes: Mother knew something more valuable than any monetary inheritance can give me; belonging to our Heavenly Shepherd is personal. When Mother spoke of the Lord, tears came to her eyes. When she heard songs of praise and adoration lifted up to Him, she wept openly. She loved Him so much, she quivered whenever she felt His presence...when she prayed...when she sang hymns. If Mother did not love her Lord, no one ever has!
The Lord was most definitely Betty's Shepherd.
The Lord is Eva Marie's Shepherd; Eva Marie shall not want.
Now, you try it: The Lord is [INSERT NAME HERE] Shepherd; [INSERT NAME HERE] shall not want.
God has not left me alone to face a lifetime of tomorrows without Mother, lonely and grief-stricken. God will provide all the encouragement, friendship, and laughter that went to Heaven with her. All I need.
He--because of mother's faith, shown in her tithing--has blessed me financially. If I have learned anything from her at all, I can look forward to a future continuing in ministry and not wearing a blue vest while repeating, "Welcome to Wal-Mart" (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) to a parade of shoppers.
So, today I will concentrate on these words: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
What about you? How has God shown you, through your grief, that He is indeed your
Shepherd? How has He provided for your needs in the midst of your heartache?