“By Still Waters” was Mother’s name for our house. I never gave it much thought, beyond that it had a nice ring to it. But today, sitting by the still waters of a mountain lake and soaking in the quiet, I thank her for instilling in me the knowledge of the possibility of peace:
She named her house “By Still Waters” not because life was smooth but because the world is a battleground. And she knew that in God there is peace that can’t come from the world.
She named the house “By Still Waters” because God gave our family peace even in sickness and hardship and chaos. She longed to provide a place of peace for others who were war-torn and weary. If that meant bringing refugees and wounded souls into our home, so be it. We would pour ourselves out for them, surround them with prayer and love, and send them forth in God’s peace.
Even before we could read, my brothers and I memorized Psalm 23. I still love the beauty of the King James Version that our family used:
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We would recite the whole thing together, sometimes, at the dinner table. We even sang that last verse, over and over. I sing it today when I need reassurance.
The world is full of unrest these days, more than I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it’s starting to hit close to home. Sometimes I am afraid. I send waves of worry out into my life as though that will repel whatever is out there, as though that will keep evil at bay.
It won’t, of course. But sooner or later, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” wells up within me. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making us memorize! That inner voice continues: “For thou art with me.” “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.”
Looking out over the lake today, I can bask in the quiet and beauty. But when my world is noisy or falling apart — God, I am grateful for the peace that you pour through my soul!
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“Study, I beg you, and each day meditate on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, so that you long more ardently for eternity.”
–St. Gregory the Great
© 2015 Sarah Christmyer.