2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
The valley of the shadow of death. We feel that don't we? Oh sometimes we may forget for awhile, but it returns. The valley is here. It's now.
The valley holds the shadow of illness that threatens to cut a life short. It's the shadow of unexpected tragedy that takes a loved one too soon. It's the shadow of loved ones who, though they lived long lives and blessed many, we are mourning because they are no longer with us. And we each have our own shadow.
Yes, we know the shadow of the valley too well.
Having said goodbye to loved ones the last two Christmases my family has heavy hearts this year. It's the reason for my lack of blogging lately. The words have been lodged behind my heart that is swollen with sorrow. That's alright. I grieve because I loved. I would not trade in love to be free of the grief! But the shadow is dark.
We especially feel the shadow of the valley when we learn the horrific news that a person walked into a school and took the precious lives of so many.
We are keenly aware we're in the valley of the shadow of death then.
But the shadow of death doesn't get the final say.
4 I will fear no evil;
How can that be?
How can we fear no evil?
We want a way to know loss will never happen again! Not to us! Not to those we love! We want loved ones healed! We want them to live long lives! How do we escape this valley of the shadow of death??
We want solutions!
God had this one arrow in His quiver. The only perfect arrow ever to exist, a masterpiece, priceless to Him. Cherished far above all the hosts of heaven. Nothing could compare. His only heritage. His only son. But as God looked on a lost world - desperate and needy and in the clutches of the enemy (in the valley of the shadow of death) - His heart was overwhelmed. Though they had sinned miserably against Him and few sought Him, God created them in love and could not love them less.
Love reached sacrificially into the quiver and pulled forth the solitary arrow. The quiver would now be empty, His cherished arrow in the hands of hateful men. Yes, God so loved the world; but God also loved His only begotten Son with inexpressible, divine affection. The divine dilemma: two loves. And one would demand the sacrifice of the other. He positioned the weapon, pulled back the bow, steadied His grip, aimed straight for the heart: "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger."
Oh what unfathomable love! What sacrifice! All who will lower their shields of unbelief and let the healing arrow penetrate shall be saved! - Beth Moore from Breaking Free
Saved! Rescued! Loved beyond compare! The purpose and meaning of Christmas! No need to fear evil!
Heart weary? Yes!
In need of still waters and green pastures in the midst of the valley? YES!
But no need to fear!
4 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 cups 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
The valley may seem long. It may get very deep. It may make our hearts heavy and weary. But we will not remain in the valley forever.
When shields are dropped and love penetrates our hearts with the arrow of saving grace, our final destination is to dwell in the house of the Lord, forever!