Faith

Walk with Me

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.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

My husband and I discovered a quiet place where we can walk two-and-a-half miles without coming into contact with another person. Any other time in our lives that would be a negative. But now, with all the craziness in the air, it is “normal.” So, even though we walk through the valley of death, along with everyone else, we will fear no evil because God is with us. Psalm 23 reminds us that we are not really alone. God is guiding us and comforting us with His presence. In verse one, David proclaims that the Lord is his shepherd, therefore, he shall not want because a shepherd always takes care of his sheep. Still, I would like to get to the other side of the valley sooner than later.

But, as David unfolds His relationship with the Lord, he reveals his hope. “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.” For His name sake, He leads. Like a good father, He leads His children down a path paved with righteousness—not rebellion, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, or self-sufficiency. In this David took comfort, and so can we.

This valley is difficult. There is no sugarcoating the hardships, the loneliness or the financial loss that has overwhelmed the world. But God is leading for his namesake. The fear that creeps into our hearts is not from God. He is with me. He comforts me. But, if I follow my own path of selfishness and pride instead of humility and grace then His name sake is tarnished and I cease to follow my Shepherd.

Is God holding out His hand to you today to say, “Walk with Me?” If so, what does that look like? For us, it looks like canceling a trip for Thanksgiving, for His name sake. It also looks like wearing a mask even when it’s uncomfortable. It looks like taking long walks on deserted, country roads and breathing in His majesty. It looks like being still.

Fortunately, when I do wander (feel sorry for myself) God guides me and comforts me with His rod and His staff. In essence, the closed door opens up a window of obedience. Like a sheep that fears what’s ahead I can stray, believing I know the best way and, inevitably, I end up lost. Oh how grateful I am for God’s guidance! So, this year, instead of being with family far away, we will trust God to prepare a table before us. There are many who won’t agree but honestly, it’s all about Jesus–for His namesake.

I desire for “goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life,” and, to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever!” That’s worth waiting for, even if the road God takes me on is full of disappointment and solitude. And, if it makes me more like Jesus then I will gladly follow.

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness

For His name’s sake.

Yea, 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 runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Forever.

Psal 23 NKJV

 

Faith

Love Letter

My friend’s throat was tight as she confessed, “God’s Word has come alive to me lately, especially the Old Testament.”

“That’s wonderful!” I was encouraged by her enthusiasm. “It’s like getting a love letter every day, isn’t it?”

“Yes. It’s wonderful.”

My friend lives alone and, though she was a child during WWII, her faith is young. Now, every word in the Bible is like music to her soul and she savors it as if it were given to her by someone who loves her very much. When I talk with her I’m reminded what it was like to discover God’s word for the first time. It seemed all the answers of life were found within the sixty-six books of the Bible. The truth is, God’s Word IS a love letter, but I don’t always treat it like one. When I first read the Bible it was like life to a dying soul. David agreed when he wrote,

Your eternal word, O Lord,

stands firm in heaven.

Your faithfulness extends to every generation,

as enduring as the earth you created.

Your regulations remain true to this day,

for everything serves your plans.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, 

I would have died in my misery.

I will never forget your commandments,

for by them you give me life.

I am yours; rescue me! 

For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments.

Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, 

I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.

Even perfection has its limits, 

but your commands have no limit.

Psalm 119:89-96 NASB

Like David, I want to cherish God’s word, not only when I’m overwhelmed or hurting but all the time. After all, Jesus is the Word of life. The entire Bible is about Jesus. His Spirit in me leaps for joy whenever the Word is activated. Then, a volcano of hope overflows as I trust in Him by faith. It is active, like a sword, cutting away the fat of deception, prejudice and fear. It is also active, like a love letter, melting away shame, regret and lonliness.

The best way for me to describe it is through story.

She sat by the window waiting for the mail while she played with the hangnail on her chapped fingers. She watched through the raindrop teared window and sighed. FInally, the truck whirred as it swung around the corner. Her heart beat fast. "Clank." It was shut. The treasure, if there was one, was inside.
Her feet carried her to the rusted, metal box in her front yard. Water spattered her face as she peered inside. A crisp white envelope rested in the metal tent. She snatched it and held it close to her heart before running back to her little, white house. 
The address was written in black ink, "To: Miss Jenna Mills, 1 Cross Street." The city and state were smeared from a large raindrop.
Slowly, she ripped off the side of the envelope and pulled out a long, white paper folded in three sections. She plopped on the porch swing and slowly unfolded the letter. 
"Dear Jenna, my beloved."
It was from him.

It was from Him. That’s how I felt. The Bible, when I opened it as a new believer, was speaking to me and it was from God. Since then I have logged a lot of hours reading His love letter. I have come to trust His words of correction, guidance, admonishment and love. It is the best way to renew my mind when I am spiritually dry. For example, when I’m lonely and insecure I turn to Isaiah,

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

And, when I need guidance or find myself confused by circumstances I read,

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

In short, God’s love letter is rich with encouragement and truth. Coupled with prayer it has the power to lift you out of the driest desert and fill your heart and mind with the reality of His love. Like Jenna, we should wait expectantly to hear from God , running to Him whenever your daily time with God rolls around. Make it a priority to sit on the porch swing and be loved.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14