The Lord Is My Shepherd

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The Lord Is My Shepherd
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…” ~Psalm 23:1-4

Several years ago I came down with a simple virus. I thought it would go away in a few days, for I had always been a very healthy person. But after a week my symptoms only grew more alarming and by the end of the month they became debilitating.

I went from a healthy active person who walked 6 miles a day, to a person who could no longer walk, use my hands, or even see to read, write or draw, for my eye muscles would go into spasms if I tried to read anything. I had to stay still in a dark room and be quiet.

This was unbearable to me for I had been so used to being active.

As a working visual artist who drew almost constantly, being unable to use my hands was like being imprisoned in my body.

I was terrified for I did not know if the illness was permanent, or even what the illness was.

Nor did my doctors. They ran numerous tests on me for every horrible disease they could think of.

I was filled with fear and anxiety.

 “Lord, why is this happening? Did I grieve you somehow?”

I prayed constantly and confessed every sin I could think of –and then some, because I was certain I had done some terrible thing to make God mad at me for allowing me to become so ill and lose so many abilities. All I had ever wanted to do was glorify Him.

Now all I could do was sit in silence before Him and weep. My head hurt constantly from migraines.

I listened to audio bibles and sermons and this comforted me tremendously.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:92 “Lord, unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”

During my time alone with the Lord, I grew very close to Him. There is nothing like suffering and affliction to draw you closer to God. He spoke to my heart. He promised to heal me. I clung to His promise.

God’s word promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God” in Romans 8:28. I treasured all of the promises in His word trusting that all would be well, for God had never failed me. 

All my life I had known Him to be faithful, just as His word says in Psalm 36:5 “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”

After many tests the doctors determined that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia~ auto-immune illnesses caused by the Epstein Barre virus.

It took 4 months of physical therapy before I could use my hands again to draw, paint, and write. After about a year I was able to walk almost a mile.

The second painting I did after I regained the use of my hands was a watercolor inspired by Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” 

The painting shows the Good Shepherd, Jesus, His face strong and steady in the

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The Lord Is My Shepherd Encouraging Card @ Wings Publications on Etsy

midst of a dark, blinding storm. His glowing clothes are billowing all about Him as He presses forward with nothing and no one able to stop Him or His purpose for the little one He has charge over. His frightened little child is crouching close behind Him to escape the blast of the stormy tempest. 

The Lord is the child’s Shield, his Shelter, and Defender. The child clings to the Lord, as Christ leads Him through the Dark Valley of the Shadow; they are as one, they are so close together.

This image truly reflects my experience with my Lord Jesus ~ He was my Good Shepherd throughout my illness and never once failed me through my crisis of fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, weakness, and pain. He led me all the way through that horrible storm and encouraged me with His word, His love, and His presence. 

The Gospel of John says that Jesus is the true light and “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” ~John 1:5

I experienced the truth of that scripture through my affliction.  And the painting is my expression of its truth.

I had my painting printed and made into an Encouraging Card, which I sell in our Etsy Shop.

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The Lord Is My Shepherd Encouraging Card at Wings Publications on Etsy

The card is like a mini version of my painting. On the front of this card is the verse, “The Lord is my Shepherd…I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:1,4 (Updated King James Version Bible) On the back of the card, Psalm 23 is printed along with a vignette of the cover illustration. 

 This card has comforted many people through many trials. So I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to experience the terrible affliction that led me to be able to paint the picture. For I would never have been able to paint it had I not experienced the suffering, fear, comfort and faith all found in that image. 

 The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our Good Shepherd to guide us down the path of righteousness, truth, and grace that we might live with You in peace forever. We love You, In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

 

Paths of Peace

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Psalm 103:1-2 (ERV)

“My soul, praise the Lord!
    Every part of me, praise his holy name!
 My soul, praise the Lord
    and never forget how kind he is!”

PATHS OF PEACE

All Glory to our wonderful God who has blessed me with a new book!  My publishing company, Wings of the Morning Publications, LLC,  just recently published my first book, “Paths of Peace, Illustrated Prayersong Book,” in print and eBook editions!

I have very good reason to celebrate because as someone with very little time, and yet who must work within the boundaries of an autoimmune disorder that causes me to have chronic migraines that are often so severe I cannot do anything but lie in a dark room and pray to the Lord, it is miraculous that I can accomplish the things the Lord inspires me to do.

We serve a wonderful God who gives me the grace to bear my cross through the faithful prayers and encouragement of my church, family, and wonderful friends. I could not do a thing apart from Christ and the faithful prayers of His people. I know this.

Despite my often debilitating affliction, God has helped me to compose music, write songs and poems, paint pictures, make albums, and videos, to manage my Etsy shop, and now through His strength to write and illustrate this book to comfort and encourage people.

How but through God’s amazing power and grace could I have done or do what I do? People who know me in person realize this more than anyone else because all they have to do is be with me for a few hours before they notice that my energy fades, my face turns pale, and I begin to wilt like a flower without water.

Activities that most people take for granted, I am unable to do or can only do for a little while before exhaustion takes over and I must go home to take a long nap. If I overdo anything one day, I will pay a price of being bedridden sometimes for three days or more, losing precious time off from my work.

But those days when I must spend time in bed, I will worship the Lord. Time away from work is never wasted when it is spent in the heart of God abiding in Christ.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not an affliction I would wish on anyone. For as of now there is no cure. Since 2006, when I got CFS, many people, churches, family and friends have prayed for my healing. I’ve been anointed with oil, and even gone to special healing services, but the Lord seems always to say “no,” as He told St. Paul. “My grace is sufficient for Thee.”

There is an interesting verse in Psalm 33:

“No king achieves a victory with a large army.
No warrior rescues himself by his own great strength.
Horses are not a guarantee for victory.
Their great strength cannot help someone escape.
The Lord’s eyes are on those who fear him,
on those who wait with hope for his mercy” ~Psalm 33:16-18

In other words, God is not impressed with strength, power,  health and beauty and youth like the world is. What does impress Him though is our willingness to step out in faith no matter how weak we are and trust that He can do the impossible with us no matter how broken we are. Because our weakness shows how strong He is. His light shines best through the broken pots. His glory cannot be seen through an unbroken vessel.

If God is glorified in my brokenness then I will praise Him no matter how many migraines I must suffer on this earth! Because I love my Lord Jesus Christ and I know He loves me. He suffered far more than I will ever suffer when He was nailed to the cross and when He was beaten and lashed for my sins to make me His own. He had to wear a piercing crown of thorns and I think about His excruciating pain He suffered for me when my head is engulfed in pain and so I just lay it all at His feet and worship Him.

Praise our wonderful God with me for the book of prayersongs that He gave me! Praise Him with me for every album of prayersongs and instrumental music He blesses me with, for they are all from Him and gifts for His people to encourage them and to encourage me also! The Lord encourages me as He gives me prayersongs, paintings, musical compositions, and poems. I am just a conduit of His grace.

Watch the video below to take a peek inside Paths of Peace Illustrated Prayersong Book and to listen to one of the songs from the book. The book features the lyrics that I sing on my album “Paths of Peace, Songs of Love and Peace.”

Please pray that God will use both the book and song and album to comfort and encourage many people for the Lord! And thank Him with me that He enabled me to accomplish this wonderful book! For truly this is miraculous!

God bless you all! ~Suzanne

Heavenly Father, thank You that with You ALL things are possible. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our abilities or weaknesses are, You are more than able to work through any broken pot and do amazing things through each of us if we will only step out in faith and trust in You. We praise You for Your great power and strength and love for us! In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.

Follow this link for the eBook edition of  Paths of Peace Illustrated Prayer Songbook
Paths of Peace Print Edition is available at Wings Publications