Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘#psalm23’

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 6.50.51 AMI grew up on the east coast of Canada, with rolling hills, spectacularly colourful autumn foliage and green, lush valleys.

It is my understanding of the east coast valley that has created for me the imagery of a valley in Psalm 23.

lush.

soft shadows.

cool.

life-giving.

Recently I came across an article about a valley between Jerusalem and Jericho. There are parts of this valley where the cliffs on either side are so high that the sun only reaches the bottom when it is at it’s noontime high. Most of the day it is

dark,

cold,

and every sound reverberates eerily throughout the valley.

This valley sounds more like the Valley of dry bones that Ezekiel wrote about after having a hum dinger of a dream.

I wonder which valley David was thinking of, when he penned the twenty-third Psalm?

Recently I realized that I am like a lifeguard. When a crises or emergency occurs, I become a person of calm, of peace. I think clearly, I speak wisely (ok, that might be a stretch), I care for those who are hurting, I do what needs to be done. Basically, I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death with ease and peace … as though I am being guided, confidently, through this death valley by the Shepherd himself.

Then, days, weeks or months after the crises or emergency I go from strolling through the lush valley with my Shepherd, to fearfully stumbling in the shadows, feeling lifeless, scared and so very alone.

I think that, like myself (like you?) David experienced both types of valleys. He experienced the shadows, and the presence of the sun. He walked through lush green growth, and the dry rocky paths. He heard nothing but the echoes of his own fear-filled heartbeat, and the comforting whispers of the Shepherd.

The thing is, the Shepherd (God) was and is present in both the valley of Ezekiel and the gentle ones I knew growing up.

In the one, Ezekiel is given a vision, by God, of dry bones in the desert. God told Ezekiel that these bones are his people, who say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely” (37:11). That’s a dark valley! A dark, shadowy, fear-filled valley. We have all walked through that valley! Then God instructs Ezekiel, to tell them to live. He told him to say, “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live” (37:5).

Those dry bones might be quite representative of me when I am stumbling through the dark, shadowy valleys, feeling scared and so very alone. The thing is, though, that shadows are not really something to be fearful of, for a shadow cannot cause us harm, and a shadow is evidence that light is present, for shadows do not exist where there is no light.

In David’s valley there is not just an awareness of the presence of God, but of him leading  the way through the valley. For some that very direct leading can happen right in the midst of walking through the shadow of death. For others it is in retrospect, looking back on that time living under the shadow, that one sees that they were never alone, that they too, were being led by God himself.

The shepherd is there with us, deep in the valley of the shadow of death. He is gently guiding, whispering to us to inhale the breath that makes dry bones come alive. He never leaves us alone, whether we see the fertile lushness of our valley, or it is a mirage that leaves us confused. He is healing our souls … our broken, dusty souls, with his healing presence. He nourishes us, right in sight of our enemies, showing evil that good is being restored.

I wonder …

could it be that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

that our Shepherd whispers sleep into our minds,

and while we are sleeping

our souls receive his refreshment from him?

Maybe, while our reality is the dark and deep crevasse, his presence transforms our souls to a restful, peaceful valley, where we can be restored.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even 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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Hopes not Fears

IMG_2071

Lately I have been pondering fears.

Though I have a bushel-full of my own fears, lately they have become especially apparent to me in others. Perhaps it is always easier to see fears in the lives of others than in ourselves.

It is, of course, wise to use caution as we live our lives, but it is easy for caution to also prevent us from being open to opportunities for learning and for life.

Last week I was assisting a student in his memorizing of Psalm 23. I have learned that, when students work to memorize it is good to give them ‘hints’ that are funny or shocking, for when they get stuck.

For instance, if a student is stuck before verse 5, which says, “you anoint my head with oil”, I will give them the hint, greasy hair.

The particular student I was assisting last week was struggling to get the following verses mastered:

“Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me”

Finally I said to him, if you were in a dark valley, how might you feel? To which he responded, “scared”. Then I asked how he would feel if he knew that God was with him, to which he said, “not scared”.

Dark valleys, traveling to new places, starting a new job, going to a new school, moving to a new community, and trying new foods are just a few of the ‘dark and twisty’, fear-invoking experiences in life. But we can never forget that we do not enter into those experiences alone …  for you (God) are with me.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.”
Psalm 23

 

Read Full Post »

ed

Happy birthday to my first born!

It’s been another year of what we take most for granted … life and breath.

Life and breath. They go together, they need each other, yet, we easily forget the blessing that they are, until we risk losing them.

I remember well your first breath, and the cries that followed. They were the best sounds I had ever heard. They proceeded tears and smiles and laughter from your dad and I.

I had waited and worked hard for that moment, and not just in pushing you out and into this world. From your conception, there was the threat of loss (as had happened before you) that I was determined would not occur.

As if we are able to will our days, our breath, let alone will it for another.

“For the Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Job 33:4

And here you are, all these years later.

You have an education, and you are ready to break out onto your own … if only the one right job would come along (as opposed to the three that are paying the bills).

It is hard to be in a place of waiting, especially when you have been waiting all throughout your years of study. You are ready to go, to do, to really, finally live the life.

Even in this valley, that seems so shadowed, there is life and breath:

God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

You have worked hard, and you are waiting. But, you are being nourished and cared for even in the waiting.

As I waited for you, I also waited in the valley. It was not where I wanted to be, yet it was where I needed to be, to repair and prepare. To breath, to re-learn how to live again.

You were so worth waiting for, and your breath took mine away.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

FisherofMen

Cast The Net To Rescue Those In Need

Following the Son

One man's spiritual journey

Fortnite Fatherhood

A father's digital age journey with his family and his faith

Tribes of Love

Love, Fearlessly.

Frijdom

encouraging space to think deeply

His Wings Shadow

Trust ~ Delight ~ Commit ~ Rest

Perfect Chaos

The Blog of Philosopher Steven Colborne

Life- All over the map

A family journey through childhood cancer and around the world

A L!fe Lived

seeking the full life that only Jesus offers

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins

The Mustard Seed Kingdom

A Blog of the Evangelical Anabaptist Partners

Brittany Wheaton

reflections on living intentionality and soulfully in the midst of the grind

The Wild Heart of Life

"He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life." ...James Joyce