During the last few weeks, I have been preparing in many ways for the upcoming birth. Not only have I washed and folded baby clothes, bought diapers, and gathered birth supplies, but I have also been preparing mentally for the labor and delivery as well. I've been reviewing my books on labor, breathing and relaxation techniques. But there is also a spiritual aspect of the preparation as well.
Often when we go through hard times in life, as Christians we turn to Scripture and prayer to help us through. And while birth is a joyous time, it is a physically demanding and painful time. Fortunately, it's one of the few "hard times" that we know about ahead of time, even if we don't know the exact date. When I'm in labor, I have learned how to focus and breathe and relax my way through each contraction. But while I'm breathing, I am usually silently reciting Scriptures, or images from Scripture. Images like the Lord being my refuge, fortress, leaning on the everlasting arms are very comforting.
And of course, one of the most loved passages for times like this is Psalm 23. A few years ago, my friend and mentor Cathi recommended a little book to me called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. The author raised sheep as a young man and later went on to become a lay pastor. This little book looks at each verse of the Psalm from the perspective of a shepherd. His insights into this Psalm make it come alive and provide a depth that I had never before appreciated.
As a city girl from Texas, where the only cattle we are familiar with are longhorns, the images from the Psalm meant little to me before I read this book for the first time a few years ago. Why would a sheep talk about being anointed with oil? Why would you prepare a table for a sheep? As Keller describes the intricacies of caring for sheep, it brings home to me the love and care that the Lord shows to me and to all His people. This is why I love reading this book as I prepare myself for labor and delivery, because I have been reminded every day in these last few weeks about His provision and care for me.
While my reformed friends, like me, will probably wish he had phrased a few sentences differently, this is a wonderful little book for any time and anybody, not just over-due moms-to-be.