mental radio when the tunes playing inside my head,

turn out to be the LORD trying to tell me something...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
the path through the valley

One day about six months after my husband died, I was bathing my youngest daughter (she was 2 then), when she pointed at the mirror in the bathroom and asked me to read it.

The mirror had been my husband's. It has King David's beautiful 23rd Psalm printed on it. Whenever my husband used to give our little girl a bath, he would read it to her.

So that day when she asked me to, I read it through to her. And then she asked me to read it again.

It was on that second read-through that I saw something. And it amazed me, because I have known the 23rd Psalm most of my life. I memorized it for a prize back when I was in kindergarten - lo, these many years ago.

But this time, as I read it, I noticed something that really struck me. For the first time, I saw that verse 3, which says, 'HE leads me in the paths of righteousness for HIS name's sake' - leads immediately into verse 4, which says, 'yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...'

And I got to wondering - if I am being led by the LORD my Shepherd in the paths of righteousness - then how did I suddenly wind up in the valley of the shadow of death?


...the LORD led me here?

Now, there are some people who have told me at this point, when I am relating this story, that for someone to be in the valley of the shadow of death means that they have strayed off the path of righteousness, straying away from the LORD. But I don't think that's necessarily so.

Look at the rest of verse 4: '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.'

If someone was really straying from the LORD, could they say that? Could they fear no evil if they were straying? And then David plainly states that the LORD his Shepherd is with him. He's not straying; he's right where the Shepherd wants him to be. He's being safely led, even in the darkness of the valley.

We are being safely led, even through the darkest valleys. The Shepherd is leading us. The dark valley - IS the path of righteousness.

And I think of this passage, also in the Psalms:

Psalms 66:10-12 KJV
10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

Why would the LORD do this to HIS people? Silver is tried by putting it into the fire, to melt away all the dross and impurities - all the scum. HE puts us in the fire? He brings us into a net? Lays affliction on us? Even causes men to ride over our heads? (Riding on war horses, is how I picture that.)

But why? Why would HE do such things to HIS people - to the ones HE loves?

HE does these things because it is by taking us through the fire and through the water - it is by melting the gunk out of us, and by taking us through deep waters up to our necks and even deeper - it is by bringing us through such things, that the LORD can then bring us out into the wealthy place.

In other words, sometimes the only way for us to get to the good place, the wonderful gracious place the LORD our Shepherd wants to bring us to - is by us first going through the hard and the fiery and the killing places - till we have died to Self and can truly live for HIM. For HIM and to HIM. And in HIM.

Where HE leads - there follow. Though the darkness be so complete you can see only the faint glow of HIS footprints leading away into the blackness - follow. The place of richness in HIM is ahead, through the fire and the water. As HE leads.

This is truly beautiful.
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