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