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Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Culture | 0 comments

Healing Stillwater

Healing Stillwater

Friday, in the quiet of the morning, I sat down at our kitchen table and spent some time with the 23rd Psalm. It is a familiar psalm, and as I prayed against the over-familiarity, I was struck by the promises of a faithful God and his urging through paths of righteousness for us under his care.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.”

Saturday morning, as my phone began to light up with tweets, texts and phone calls, I discovered how chaotic our still waters had become.

Nothing prepares you for this. It was a simple parade – the innocence of high school marching bands, school pride, community commitment, smiling police officers and local heroes waving at smiling children waving American flags.

It was amazing how quickly those band members were sent running to their busses, the community scattered by screams and sirens, police officers and local heroes thrust into action in a scene they never could have imagined as a car came streaking through a barricade, into a police motorcycle and into the unsuspecting public.

Where was God? Couldn’t He have stopped the vehicle? Sent her on a different route? Why them, why not me, why us, why then?

You can’t answer the question of why? You can merely live in what now? Our community has held candlelight vigils, started online campaigns to help victims, and will continue to memorialize those who were tragically killed and pray for all involved.

We know Oklahoma heals. We have done it before, and we will do it again. We bear the scars of tragedies before, that point to the healing to come. That healing comes in different ways for different people and will continue to do so over the coming season.

For me, I return to the 23rd Psalm and the reflections I wrote down just 24 hours before the unthinkable tragedy.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

            your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

            in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

            my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

            all the days of my life

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (ESV)

What I noted that morning were the words used to describe God’s active and steadfast faithfulness. He makes. He leads. He restores. You prepare. You anoint.

As His faithful deeds create a canopy over us, the phrases come to mind that describe how we live under the guidance of such a faithful God. I walk. I will fear no evil. I shall dwell.

What the 23rd Psalm reminds us is while God leads, restores, and watches over us on paths of righteousness, those paths often lead through the valley of the shadow of death.

But it is there we see His promises still firm. It is there he is still with us. It is there he still is in control – guiding – his rod and staff still comforting us.

Stillwater is a strong community and a place I am proud to call home. God is just as sovereign and present today as he was Saturday morning. He still leads, restores and comforts. God is faithful.

And in that time, we will still walk. We will still fear no evil. And by his grace, through Christ, we will still dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the young woman and her family. Pray for our local churches as we minister to our community.

God is good. Lord, come soon. Heal Stillwater.

About The Author

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith

Ryan is associate pastor at Eagle Heights Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is the author of Not That God.

Ryan Smith has blogged 114 posts at wordslingersok.com

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