In September of 2005, my son was diagnosed with a tumor in his left wrist. Imagine tremors quaking through me randomly each day throughout that month. Julie Wharton, my friend of many years, was beside me in a flash when she witnessed anxiety reach a point where I could not catch my breath. I do not exaggerate when I say fear would sneak up on my blindside, sink it's fangs into my jugular and chew.
Early in the process my husband, son and I used the Word of God (Bible) more like a table knife jabbing at something while blindfolded. But, then, it happened, that we got "our holy mad on" as faith was nurtured and our target came into focus. No longer wimpy saints, we wielded the Sword with spiritual strength, prayed the scriptures and aimed our hope, trust and faith into the heart of the matter!
To relieve stress, early morning jogs on the treadmill became a necessity. While in the middle of one such jog, Psalm 23:4 shot through my brain: 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 staff comfort me.
At the end of that eternal month, no longer did my son's wrist ache and it was determined the tumor was not cancerous!
I learned quite a few lessons during the actual testing period: When you don't have enough faith for yourself, friends and family strengthen you with their faith; With what you've nourished your spirit will come to the top; and, God desires to communicate with you.
Today, I was mulling over faith when, again, Psalm 23:4 shot through my brain while jogging. It occurred to me many people go through the valley of the shadow of death via different routes. Death of a dream. Death of the body. Death of a relationship. Death of a job. You get the picture.
You may be there, now.
Convinced the Good Shepherd keeps His word and accompanies us through the valley, I am certain His staff is used to rescue us from the ledge. However, what would His rod -a different shepherding tool- be used for? I believe it is significant or it would not have been mentioned.
Here's what I think...
When my steps slow because of apathy, disobedience, anger or self-pity, He prods me forward with a strong prompting to the backside. When I'm distracted from the goal, the rod's nudge to my nose redirects my attention. When I'm frozen from fear, despair or depression, I hear the sound of His rod tapping against the hard surface reassuring He's there walking near me. And, when I don't see danger stalking me, His skillful handling of the rod clubs-in the head of the predator.
Let your faith rise. Encourage yourself in the Word. Keep moving! Some valleys simply are not meant to be inhabited, but journeyed through.