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Posts Tagged ‘#thevalleyoftheshadow’

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Just a year ago, the phone rang, as I sat, cross-legged, on our sofa, writing away, enjoying the new delight of not having to go to work on a Pro D day.

That phone ring, and the ensuing conversation, changed the trajectory of our lives, resulting in loss of work, long term illness, a move and more.

It was as if the world stopped spinning, as I unwittingly overheard the conversation on speaker phone and I knew that life was about to change and that hubby was entering the valley of the shadow. I also knew that no one enters it alone.

A rock, when dropped into water will cause the water around it to displace, circles of water pushing outwards, one wave at a time until the ripples quiet like the water furthest away. Like that rock, every action, or inaction in our lives has a ripple effect into the lives of others around us.

The thing is, that while the one who dropped the rock into the water moves on down the shore, forgetting the effect of their action, the ripples continue to form and move outward, farther and farther from the place/person of initial impact.

We all have, or have had events in our lives with ripple effects. We have all caused ripple effects in the lives of others. These realities are part of the human experience, the human reality of living in community.

This is why, at court proceedings, there are often victim impact statements that are read, preceding the sentencing of the accused. This is so that the judge, jury, but especially the accused is made aware of how far-reaching their action has gone. It is the stories of hurt and loss and struggle experienced not just by the victim, but those surrounding them.

Ripples, once started in water, cannot be stopped. Eventually they will dissipate as they move further and further from their origin, but to try to stop them by external means, only creates new ripples. Truly, once the rock touches the water, the effect can never be stopped, or reversed.

Such is the case with everything we say, or do … or don’t say, or don’t do. We are the ones responsible for throwing that rock into the water, whether we stand by and watch the waves grow ever farther outward, or keep walking along the shore, unaware of the waves we started.

“I will call upon your name,
And keep my eyes above the waves”
Hillsong United

“We are none of us cast adrift, if we have faith.
In the cross, we find our anchor.”
Monica Joan Call the Midwife

 

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Death and taxes, those two fatalistic certainties of life. Neither desirable, but both inevitable.

It is a difficult thing to walk in the shadow of the valley of death with someone.

I say this mostly at a distance from experiencing it, as my walks with the dying have been rather few. My hubby, though, is a pastor, and he has walked this road much more frequently.

When death is imminent, daily life gets postponed, for to live with the dying can be the most real of living life.

I often think of this valley walk as one on holy ground … living in the space between no longer and not yet.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, he would preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). As Jesus gave his famous Sermon on the Mount, he spoke of the kingdom of God/heaven. It would seem that the kingdom of God/heaven is wherever He was/is. So, when he was walking this Earth, as a man, he was delivering the Kingdom, just as we, who live with the Spirit of God in our lives, also bring the kingdom with us where we go (“for the kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21).

But, Philippians 3:20 also tells us:

our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You see, our residence is here, and we bring the kingdom of God and heaven wherever we go, but our passport … we are citizens of the eternal kingdom of heaven, ruled by the God of all time.

For the believer, “we do not grieve as those who have no hope”. Our hope is in the promise of Jesus, himself, who said, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!”

Will L. Thompson

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When my kids were young, I would sometimes hear their cries from the bedroom at night. When I would ask what is wrong their response would be, “I’m scared, Momma.” And so I would ask the reason for their fear. Sometimes it was a fear of someone dying, or that their favorite toy was lost, or the dark was too dark, or they just felt scared. I would then sit, or lay, on their bed and say soothing words, sing soft songs. Inevitably, they would soon drift off to sleep.

There was no magic potion that eased them into restful sleep. What my children needed was not so much resolution of their fears, but my presence with them through their fears.

Do you remember times when the presence of someone you loved was the best comfort in the face of fear?

Maybe it was walking home in the dark, as a teenager, after watching a scary movie. Or holding your dad’s arm while walking down the aisle at your wedding (or maybe you were his comfort?). Or that friend who sat with you during chemo treatments. Or the one who held you close as you walked through a great sadness or depression.

“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.” Psalm 23:4

This Friday, Christians all over the world will walk through the valley, as we remember the sacrifice of Christ for us.

As his body hung on that cross, he was so aware that he was alone. A loneliness that he was born to bare, a loneliness that his divinity did not deserve.

Yet, Jesus, though the fear of the loneliness of the dark overwhelming, showed that he chose the accompaniment of the name above all names.

According to Elicott’s Commentary:

“how it was possible for the Son of Man to feel for one moment that sense of abandonment, which is the last weapon of the Enemy. He tasted of despair as others had tasted, but in the very act of tasting, the words “My God” were as a protest against it, and by them He was delivered from it.”

He spoke the name of his father when he shouted, “”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), and in doing so he declared,

even though I am in pain

even though my heart is heavy

even though I have wrongly been declared guilty

even though I will die a lone being

I will not fear, for you are with me as long as I have breath left to say your name.

The presence of God is there for us all, we need only to call on his name.

 

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