YEA THOUGH I WALK…
Ps.23: 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.5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth 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 for ever.
The most prominent Christian ministries has presented a false caricature of the faith. Their smiling faces and Hollywood makeup and self help and upbeat messages have communicated to the unbelieving world that we as believers walk through this world with just minor problems. And even our minor problems are just wiped away effortlessly. It suggests that when you follow Jesus you are safeguarded from any deep difficulties. Many people think it’s just one trip to Disneyland after another.
But those of us who truly know the Lord Jesus and imperfectly try to follow in His footsteps know that there are seasons where you walk in valleys, and some them very deep. We have faced many giants and have had spiritual challenges that literally affect our physical beings. How many of us have wept during a time of praise because as we praised the Lord Jesus we were hurting so badly inside? You see, this following Jesus has never been for the weak hearted or for those who are stoic and without emotion or compassion.
And if you desire to walk after the Master be assured that the devil, the world, and the flesh will come against you with everything they can. This is not a playground. This is a battlefield and sometimes wounds are inflicted and need to be healed. And we also bear one another’s burdens. We have spouses and children and other family members whose situation affects us. We have friends and spiritual brothers and sisters who are hurt or get involved with sin which also impacts us deeply. In this world we have tribulation that is common to man such as health and financial issues. And then we see just what is happening to lost sinners as they hurl themselves toward an eternity separated from Christ.
But the valleys which seem to impact us the most are when loved ones reject us or walk away from God or even are dealing with life and death issues. It is during those times when the valley seems its deepest and most challenging. And depression and discouragement seem to cling to us as we try to look toward our Great God. Yes, in spite of all who know about Christ and the Scriptures there are times when we find ourselves carrying some heavy burdens. We know the Spirit is with us, and we know Christ is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and we know many spiritual truths as well. But we are still prone to battle the giants that live in the valley in the strength of our own flesh.
But be aware you who love Christ and wish to follow Him. Perilous times are here and greater perils are on their way. Deception lives around the world with many and varied tentacles. Even the gospel itself has become rare in its purist form. There are great multitudes of professing believers who have no hunger or thirst and even interest in Christ and His kingdom. The outside shell of morality has replaced the inward fire of spirituality. Those who truly follow Christ will walk in many valleys in the coming days. Many have already given their lives and many live behind bars.
But there is still an ocean of God’s grace available to anyone who truly seeks the Son of God and the Risen Christ. And here is a secret unknown to unbelievers and to the prosperity mindset: Many times, if not most times, the Spirit lifts the veil and reveals more of Christ to us during our seasons in the valley. The valley is perhaps the single greatest inner court experience a believer can have. And sometimes as we walk out of a valley and brush ourselves off, we look back and are amazed at how much glory God gave us and how our beings were changed to be more like Him. In the hottest fire that rages without an answer it eventually becomes evident that the fire was used to melt us and allowed the Potter to remake us without some of the self serving dross that had attached itself to our earthen vessels. And even with a long way to go yet, the valley and the fire brought out a little more gold to His glory.
So take heart, fellow pilgrim. We walk in a world which is the very shadow of death. And that which was once the church now loves that death and seeks to enjoy it and make it part of Christ Himself. But the August Christ is Holy and He will not allow His matchless name or His sinless character be in any alliance with this present world. And we must remember that as we watch millions upon millions of professing believers march in lockstep with this fallen world. And to refuse to be a part of it all surely must mean many valleys along the way. We do not pray for valleys, however when our feet must step through one we must go without fear. And in the end, valleys are a gift of God’s grace where we can glorify our Wonderful Redeemer and allow His light to shine through us into a dark and lost world.
Let us keep our eyes on the valley that was set before our Savior. His valley was set upon a hill called Calvary and on that valley He walked through death and came out alive forevermore! So when we are rejected by friends a foes and even loved ones, keep your eyes upon Him who was rejected of all men. He was despised by those to whom He gave life. And in the depths of the deepest valley that could ever have been imagined, He spoke words of forgiveness and bowed His head and died. He embraced the valley of death so that we could have life. And even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we will fear no evil. Our Redeemer lives so what can man do to us? Amen.