“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.” Psalm 23 3b-4
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I put in my last installment of this blog series. I apologize for those readers that have been waiting for me to finish this series. A lot has happened in life in the last few weeks. My Mom had another infection that had to be taken care of in the hospital. As I go through this blog real life is still happening. It’s interesting I am sitting in a busy Starbucks drinking this awesome espresso iced coffee and there is another refreshing thunderstorm happening ironically. Maybe I do my best writing with a thunderstorm. This next part of the passage is my favorite, I love the description that David puts here of the shadow, or dark valley. Remember when you are resting in God’s shadow there is no darkness around you. God’s shadow is light. You can see clearly in God’s shadow. The dark valley or the shadow of the valley of death is not death overwhelming us or even hurting us. It’s but a shadow, a non-tangible thing that cannot hurt us. It can bring pain for a time, but it cannot destroy us. It’s the trial you are dealing with, but the light of God always turns it around for good. Always think of that, this will turn into something positive. I’m seeing this already with my best friend’s wife. We never really had spoken to each other or had much of a relationship until now after his death. She is a very sweet woman and I am seeing the positive of God bringing me closer to this family that I love dearly. The last blog was about resting in God as we go through the dark valley, now we need to follow His lead.
God leads us onto paths of righteousness. What does it mean to be on a path of righteousness? It means you are in God’s perfect will. Our next step while we are traversing this dark valley is to continue on this path. It’s hard to after you lose several people in your life all at one time. It’s hard when access to something or someone you love is no longer possible. The best thing to do after a rest is to do something, do an activity. Let’s be honest, the valley is a dark place, we have to traverse that dark place to heal properly and to be what God wants us to be. When we emerge on the other side we are better because of the dark valley. Why should we continue on, because it’s for God’s glory, for his name sake. Nothing shows more glory than a person who was once hurting and they emerge as an overcomer, nothing shows glory more than a person in step with God’s will for their life. We do it for God’s glory, not ours, because the truth is, we are hurting and are a mess emotionally. The point is we go on because it’s God, He made this life not for us to throw it away and be sad all the time, He made it for us to spread joy and peace to others who are going through the tough time. Jesus said to take care of the widows and orphans.
When it’s still dark we cannot get caught up with fear. Fear has caused me to go back to some of my old ways and gain 90 plus pounds back. If you allow fear to rule you, it will ruin you. Fear is an attitude that says God, I don’t trust you enough to rest in your good and perfect will. Now a shot of reality, we will always fear something, we will always be made uncomfortable by things that can happen, but the biggest thing we can do is not allow it to stop us on the path. Fear is the biggest thing that keeps us in that last step of grief, depression. Fear gives us a choice, we can either be motivated or shrink back into ourselves.
We keep down that path for His names sake, we make fear a motivator, and now we have God’s rod and staff to bring us comfort. Back in biblical times a shepherd would use a rod and a staff to keep the sheep going. I believe that with all my heart, because I’ve seen it in my own life several times, that if you are a true believer in Christ He will never let you slip through His fingers. Now, what does the rod mean and what does the staff mean? The rod was used to defend the sheep from lions. God’s rod is keeping the enemy at bay. He won’t allow us to be overcome by the enemy, He only gives us what we can handle. The staff on the other hand is God’s sovereign authority in our lives. The staff was used to hook a sheep that may get off the path the shepherd wants him on. The pain we experience from going off on our own is of our own making. We cannot stay in fear because we have God’s protection, and push in the right direction.
We stay on the path of God for His glory, use fear as a motivator, and we always have God’s protection and push in the right direction to keep us moving, not mourning in this life.
Have you ever experienced God hooking and pushing you back on the right path? Please share.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple] 2016