This started as a homily on the first verse of the twenty-third Psalm. And it's still that, sort of, but it's morphed into something different.
As we are walking through the Psalm, the focus on this first verse has been on how as sheep of the Great Shepherd, we should be free from want. He fulfills all our needs. When we want more, we are either doubting the sufficiency of the Shepherd, or we are acting as foolish sheep.
This applies to every scenario, even when it is difficult, even when it is trying. Even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Even in a change of employment. Even in through a fire.
And it's the fire, that I will be discussing, after a reminder from Jamie.
Because it's a fire that brought us together.
I realize I've never told that story here, and thought it was past time.
Jamie and I actually met for the first time in a small group Bible study in central Austin. She came in to the Bible study that I had been attending and sat down directly across from me. Our small talk quickly turned to a love of old movies and TCM.
We would later learn that we would have my sister to thank for our meeting at all. I was attending the small group that my sister had joined when she started with the Austin Stone. Jamie had attended a welcome/more information session at the church, where she met my sister, who recommended that same small group.
Despite similar interests, we never dated in Austin. Jamie hung out with more of the rest of my family than me. She played frisbee golf with Taylor. She continued to go to the small group with Brooke. My dad even sat in on that small group and met her there.
In a group setting, I went to one of the frisbee golf sessions and ate with them afterward. While we all got P. Terry's hamburgers, I remember Jamie heading over to a crepe stand. I drove her home from group one night. I helped her move out of her apartment in December to start her time with Missoula Children's Theater. I was the first one there that night and met her mom and dad. Jamie and I moved a lot out of the apartment before anyone else got there. (Her mom would later tell us that she told her sister that night that she met Jamie's future husband).
But in all of that, no one on one dates, no group dates, nothing.
We wouldn't date until we were both in Tyler, in March, over three months later. I was working in Tyler with the group that I would be associated with for over ten years. Jamie was home on spring break from Missoula Children's Theater. We were both getting an email prayer list from the small group, and Jamie read the prayer request I had, indicating I was in Tyler, lonely, and ready to come back to Austin. So she called me up and asked if I'd like to hang out.
One date turned into the rest of the week, seeing her through the end of her spring break home. That experience led her to choose not to re-up with Missoula once the semester was finished, but to come back home in June. From that point on, we were inseparable.
The real story, though, is why Jamie was in Tyler. It was not where her family typically lived. It was not where she lived prior to Missoula. Under normal circumstances, she would not have been in Tyler.
If not for the fire at her parent's house over Christmas.
Christmas Eve, 2007, Jamie's family gathered as they typically would for Christmas. The family decided to have Christmas in Texas this year instead of Alabama, so there were a lot of people in their house that particular year. Twelve in this house, thirteen in the relative's across the street.
That night, they lit a fire in the fireplace and had turned in to go to sleep. What they could not know is that cracks in the fireplace would allow the fire to spread into surrounding walls behind the brick. Shortly after midnight, that defect would make itself known.
Thankfully, no one was hurt during the fire. The gifts and stockings were saved. Pictures were saved. There was damage, but it was repaired. The fire was contained to two rooms. In terms of a fire, it was inconveniencing more than anything.
The fire did require the family stay out of the house until it was repaired. Insurance put them up in an apartment in Tyler. This worked out for Jamie's parents. They both worked in Tyler. It was a tight fit, but it worked.
This meant Jamie was with her family in Tyler when she came home for spring break.
For the want of a house fire, who knows where Jamie and I would be.
"For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."
It's an important reminder. Our circumstances may lead us to unexpected places. We may not see the value of the unemployment period. The fire. The setback. The struggle. The suffering. That's not what anyone prays for.
But it may be what is needed to put us in the place to get to the next blessing. To go through the fire to get to the relationship.
To get through this period to see whatever comes next.
So while I may be ready to move through this period, to rush through to get to what is next, I'm going to strive to learn, to remember, that I shall not want for the Lord is my shepherd. He has this. He will purpose this.