“Even though I walk in the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23
Our Good Shepherd
I looked to the hills of Santa Barbara on a sunny and bright day. I imagined a shepherd leading a flock of sheep through a treacherous ravine. Though the day shined bright, this area was shadowed by the tall hill. In my mind’s eye, I could see the shepherd, sometimes leading the way, at times bringing up the rear. I imagined that their might be parts where the sheep might stop, scared, uncertain of their footing. The shepherd would stop and help the sheep – it might take an encouraging word or maybe a prod or a poke with the rod. Maybe he would use that shepherd’s crook to pull the sheep – like a bad performer off the stage – from the boos and hisses and rotten tomatoes of the bullying crowd! I don’t doubt that at times the shepherd may even need to pick up the sheep and carry it from one place to another. Such has been my experience in the dark valleys! No wonder the sheep takes comfort in seeing the rod and staff
During the sad years when my marriage was troubled and eventually ended despite my best efforts, I could do nothing in my power to change it, even after years of trying and praying and hoping and wishing. I sank down deep to a place where I was almost unreachable. I seemed that no one could understand what I was going through – all around me were what appeared to be happy, normal marriages and happy, normal families. I struggled to hold my head up; I struggled to be a good mother to my little ones and my every action took a great deal of effort. I felt as though I was waist deep in quicksand. I was convinced that no one could understand or relate to me. The few times that I picked up the phone to call a friend or confidant, it seemed that there was never an answer. I finally cried out to God. In His kindness and love, He met me right there. He opened the eyes of my heart. He took me from the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock.
I realize that I never really truly understood what God was able to do in my life until I reached “the valley of the shadow of death!” Thankfully, we don’t all have to get to that place. But I don’t for a moment regret having gone there because I can say with all faith that He goes there with me. It was there that I received His comfort, it is there that I found I am never alone!
When faced with life’s inevitable lows, how do you respond? Is crying out to God the first thing you do or the last resort?
Do you wait until you are stuck or do you call on Him as soon as you begin to approach trouble? What about when things are going fine? I pray to cultivate a heart gratitude at all times, through all circumstances because of the One who gave His life for my shortcomings.
Have you ever heard the saying, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day at the office?” Well, that is how it is for me. My worst circumstance walking with the Lord is better than my best circumstance without Him!
Lord, today let me run to You first before anything! Let me rely on you completely. We can never know what the day will bring, but it is never a surprise to You. Let me take comfort today and at all times knowing that You are there no matter what the circumstance, no matter how treacherous the path ahead of me. You are our good shepherd and I am assured in knowing that you are my beacon, my guardian, my disciplinarian, my leader and my strength.
Following my Shepherd,
Laura (Lead teacher Children’s Ministry)