Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3517

Jump Start # 3517

Psalms 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”

  This Psalm is a favorite of most. It’s found on funeral cards, posters, pictures, cross stitched, and in about every place imaginable. This Psalm has brought comfort to the weary soul, the grieved heart, and the fearful. It presents a pleasant picture of green pastures and quiet waters. It calls our thirsty and tired souls to linger in the presence of the Lord.

  There is a quiet shift in the text when we come to our verse today. Up to this point, the Psalmist has been talking about God. He is a wonderful Shepherd. He knows where to lead us. He knows when we need rest. But, in our verse today, the Psalmist no longer talks about God. He now talks to God and right in the middle of this chapter, comes a prayer. The fearful and dreaded dark valley of death is no longer something to dread nor be terrified of. The Shepherd is with him. The rod and staff of the Shepherd brings comfort. They do that because they are in the hands of the Shepherd. That means, the Shepherd is nearby. The Shepherd is right here.

  I love this Psalm. I have preached and preached and preached it so many times. Like holding a unique object in your hand, you turn it this way and then that way and each time you see and observe new things. It never gets old.

  And, once again, as I turn this beautiful Psalm before my eyes, I see something fascinating in this one verse, our verse. It’s a word, but what a powerful word it is. “Through.” I walk through the valley. Do you see that? We don’t stay in the valley. We don’t dwell in the valley. The valley does not become our home. We are on a journey. To reach our destination we must go through those dark Judean canyons. A quick, hard rain, and those canyons fill with a rapid flash flood that could mean death. Behind every turn in those canyons, could be desperados, waiting to attack a careless traveler. Within those canyons may be fierce animals that will lunge at you in an instant. There are so many reasons to avoid the canyons. There are so many reasons to be afraid. But, we travel into those valleys. But we don’t stay. We walk THROUGH them and we walk through them WITH our Shepherd.

  Here are some thoughts for us:

  First, valleys are inevitable. We’d like everyday to be like a trip to Disney, the happiest place on earth, we are told. But our journey is not like that. The path we take often leads to hospitals and funeral homes. There is sickness and sorrow. There is disappointments and heartache. Some days are hard. How we’d love to skip around those days, but we can’t. We go THROUGH those things.

  Second, valleys are often unpredictable. The day starts sunny and pleasant, but by the end of that day, storms have filled the skies and our hearts. A person doesn’t leave the house telling his loved ones, “I think I’ll have a car wreck today.” But, there are days that the wreck happens. One doesn’t have to go looking for trouble. Somehow trouble always finds us. It catches us off guard. We have a hard time preparing for it simply because we do not know when it will come.

  Third, valleys are impartial. The journey of life takes us through valleys. There is no place on the planet that boasts, “This is a trouble free town.” The amount of education won’t keep you out of valleys. Wealth can buy fine medicine, but there remains valleys that we must all travel through. The young. The old. The righteous. The wicked. Those who try to do what is right. Those who don’t care what they do. The good. The bad. The kind. The selfish. The wise. The fool. The rich. The poor. We all have valleys that the road of life takes us through.

  For the child of God, he has an advantage. He has the Lord to follow. The Lord will lead him into the valley and the Lord will be with him in the valley and the Lord will provide assurance and comfort. For others, they journey through the valley on their own. Frightened, confused and unaware what to do, some will fail. Some will give up. Some will become bitter. Going through valleys is hard. It is especially hard when one doesn’t have the Lord to be with him.

  Fourth, valleys have a purpose. We might not see the reason, nor understand or even agree with why they are there, but they cause us to see what is important in life. They cause us to walk ever closer to the Lord. They cause us to be patient and prayerful. They cause us to listen carefully to the Lord. Some will complain about valleys. Some will curse valleys. For the righteous, he understands there is a reason and a purpose and on the other side of the valley, there are wonderful lessons that have been learned.

  THROUGH. Don’t stay in the valley. Don’t put out a mailbox and buy a welcome mat for the valley. The valley is not our home. The valley does not define us nor defeat us. The valley is not what we are after. THROUGH the valley, on the other side, that’s where the Lord wants us to be. To get there, a valley stands in our way. You have to go through it. But you don’t have to go through it alone.

  THROUGH…I like that word!