Into the Valley

 

1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

3. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4. Yea, 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.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

(Psalm 23 NKJV)

Walking hand in hand with God is such a wonderful experience. You know that you know that you know. . .that His Holy Spirit, who is alive – no, more than just alive – He is living, working, leading in and through you. You are so very aware of His teaching, His rebukes and His gentle push when temptation would steer you off that narrow path. He opens your eyes to the wonders of God's Holy Word – that most precious of possessions. He takes this Word and burns it into your mind and then He tenderly places it on your heart, so that it becomes so much part of you that it is as another vital organ without which you cannot survive.

You are so deeply grieved by your sinful contribution to our Savior's death – death on a cross; I may have just as well driven home the nails myself. Could I, could you, look my murderer in the face and say "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do"? All these things are integral to that wonderful experience of a Christian walk.

I have opened this devotional with the 23rd Psalm, a most beloved passage we learned as a child in Sunday School and repeated often in Vacation Bible School. Of the whole of the psalter the 23rd is probably known by more people than any other. Perhaps initially because it is short and therefore easy to memorize, but I think as the words grow within us, even as we physically and mentally mature, they become a cherished crutch to call upon when days grow dark – when we find ourselves in 'the valley of the shadow of death'. If we back up one Psalm to the 22nd we can hear the anguish and distress David is experiencing and perhaps one song led to the next.

It is curious to me that the 23rd Psalm was the first passage that came to my mind when I found myself tumbling off a mountain top recently. I have known myself to be living a mountain top experience for a number of years now. I have shared that cognizance with most of my friends. I have even prayerfully questioned God why I was so blessed, while I was surrounded by so much suffering by those I love. They say you shouldn't look a gift-horse in the mouth. Maybe they were right.

Over the past few weeks I found my footing on the mountain top slipping just a little and midweek this week I came falling, tumbling, sliding off that mountain top, right into the valley of the shadow of death. A doctor's visit jerked the rug right out from under our feet. You see, the doctor says my bride, my love, my best friend has cancer and it is an ugly cancer. I suppose all cancers are ugly, but for Judy and me this one seemed more ugly than what we were ready to face.

We made a few phone calls and send a couple of emails to ask our friends and family for prayer. I so very distinctly remember how distant God seemed from me. That wonderful, hand in hand experience I described above seemed now so far away. In one email I noted that although I knew the Lord was with us, I just could not at the moment see where He was in our picture.

I stayed up very late that evening, much of the night on my knees. Not only praying for a miracle for Judy, but that I would know His presence – that He would show His face. I so desperately missed knowing His nearness to me.

God answered my prayers – in spades. He showed His face in ways I had not expected. He sent His angels – earth angels. Some of the angels had titles, like Pastor and Doctor; most were those of His faithful – our friends and family. Judy and I were inundated with phone calls, email and text messages, flowers, and knocks at our door. It was in these of our loved ones, as they circled the wagons around us, that I saw the face of God – this was the hand of God telling me that He will indeed lead us beside still waters to lie down in green pastures. This was God assuring me that we should fear no evil for He is with us.

Our walk through the valley of the shadow of death is far from over – it has really only begun. But as wonderful as was the mountain top, so too now is this valley, as I know He is with us on the journey. Surely and indeed my cup runneth over.

Trusting God when all is well is such an easy thing. I think it also can be a time we may take His blessings too much for granted. I don't think I had done so – perhaps He thought differently. But I thank Him for this 'valley', as I am more sure today than yesterday that I know that I know that I know He loves me and He will never leave me nor forsake me.

I would never wish ill for anyone, but I do pray God will take you into some valley, that you may come to know Him in a way you'll never know from the mountain top.

God bless

 

Comments

  1. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered and He that searcheth the hearts, knoweth the mind of the Spirit because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"

  2. What a beautiful reminder with the 23rd Psalm!  You and Judy will  make it thru the Valley, because as He promises, He will be with us! 

  3. May God bless you and Judy indeed, enlarge your border, may the Lord hand be with you and grant you His favor and wisdom during your time in the valley.  He is a God of the valley also and only He can and will bring you out of the valley.  Amen
    Peace, Marion

  4. Newpher, Art says:

    Hi Mike, 
    Brother it hurts me that Judy and you have to go through this valley.  While I currently don't know how I can assist you on this journey…other then Prayers for you two…PLEASE do NOT hesitate if you think of anything that I or Debi can do – anything!  …from the smallest to the biggest request.  You two are greatly loved and we want to share your burdens!

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