Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Welcome to Christian Charity World as we look at "The Valley of the Shadow of Death"
The Twenty-third Psalm
A Psalm of David
"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; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
Many, many Christians experience extremely difficult, testing times. It may be ill health, relationship break ups or, like me at present, a harsh financial climate. We may wonder where God is as we desperately struggle in our own Valley of the Shadow of Death. It seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel as we stumble over obstacle after obstacle, trapse through quagmires and dodge poisoned arrows. We can't climb the cliffs each side of the valley because they are to steep and treacherous so we have no choice but to soldier on.
When we choose (some say we are chosen) to follow Jesus Christ we don't make the easiest choice. There are many other roads we can follow but none of these lead to our salvation. Following our saviour is the route we must take to come to God and this path is fraught with many dangers and wrong turnings along the way.
In the Old Testament we are reminded of Job's fall from grace as he lost all that he owned including his loved ones and faling ill to a disease likened to lepresy. He was advised by so called friends that he must have sinned badly and he should confess his sins to God. Yet he could not see where he had betrayed God that badly. God was testing him, guiding him through his own personal Valley of the Shadow of Death and because Job's faith never ceased (it may have buckled abit at times), God brought him out the other side.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ led a life following a path through the valley of the shadow of death. Tested by Satan in the wilderness for forty days Jesus proved His sinlessness and yet still endured hostility, loathing and ultimately death upon the cross. His whole three years of ministry must have seemed like a walk on the dark side but God rewarded Him with His resurrection and ascension into heaven to sit at His right-hand.
I'm reminded of the poem "Footprints in the Sands" by Mary Stevenson
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?" The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."
Just the other day I was praying to God about my own personal journey through The Valley of the Shadow of Death. I wanted to see a sign that he was with me as I tripped over unforeseen bolders and got sucked under by the quicksand of financial uncertainty. Soon after my prayers I picked up the book "Godzone" by Mike Riddell which is a travellers guide through God's kingdom. In the chapter entitled "Lie of the Land" he very picturesquely describes the terrain that we, as Christians, will inevitably hike across on our journey to be with God. His description of "The Valley", a very dark, perilous road with steep sides that block out any sunlight seems to aptly paint the scene I feel myself in at the moment. But I am greatly inspired by the fact that a mountain peak awaits where we can basque in all God's glory which can be viewed to the horizons afar.
Ten years ago before I started on my Christian journey, a journey through The Valley of the Shadow of Death would have broken me. Today, knowing Christ is my guide and Saviour I can tread each dark step without any fear.