Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
you remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. Psalm 23: 4 TPT
When I am searching for deeper understanding of a verse, I often check out different translations. I particularly like The Passion Translation because it is just that, a passionate translation intended to remind us of God’s lavish love for us. I also like the King James Version that says, “ 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.”
My research tells me that there was truly a physical place called “the valley of the shadow of death.” It was a steep, winding road through which shepherds had to take their sheep while risking attack by thieves, animals and was also a perilous physical track. This is an apt description of a wilderness experience.
When I have ever entered a wilderness experience, there is never any doubt in my mind that I am about to go through a time of learning, testing and growth. So I throw off all guilt, blame and shame right at the outset. That is baggage I cannot afford to carry. I am also clear that I will have to make wise choices. Here are some of the choices:
· Acknowledge where you are…in the valley of the shadow of death. Shadow is the operative word. For me it means that I will be constantly attacked by the fear that I won’t make it through but it is not real nor does it have the power to slay me unless I allow it to.
· That informs me that I need to make a decision at the outset that I will come out alive, better and, whole. No matter how dark the circumstances look, I have to hold onto hope which is the expectancy of good! I will not rest my eyes on the circumstances, but on the Shepherd.
· I step into my wilderness experience knowing that while I may have many opportunities to succumb to the fear, I will never ever be alone. Not only will my Shepherd be with me, but He has all of the necessary weapons to protect, defend, comfort and sustain me.
· “You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear.”
This is the really good part. The finished work of Jesus informs me that He has all authority and it is shared with me! Together, we will do this.
This is not my first, nor my last ‘valley” experience. I also have the comfort of remembrance. This is a key to getting through. God has done it before and He will do it again and again. One of my greatest defenses is taking note in my heart of every miraculous rescue of the past and every one on this present journey. I grow stronger, more trustful, more dependent on God during these times. And, this simply enriches my faith walk and my confidence in the extravagant love that covers me! Selah.
If you were encouraged by this blog, please share it!