“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ~ David
Evil is the consequence of starting from the point of a lie. If a choice I make is based on a lie such as, “I am the master of my own destiny, I am the captain of my soul”, then the consequences of my choice are chaos, frustration, and despair. If I were truly the ‘captain of my soul’, I would have preexisted myself to create myself, I could determine what rules I wish to live by without consequences, and defeat death as well. When we are actually honest with ourselves, we all know none of this is true.
The valley of ‘the shadow of death’ denotes the most severe and terrible afflictions, a dark time where there is no obvious way out. It’s a place where fear and doubt entangle our hearts and dismay clouds our vision. If we were to choose to travel this valley ‘as the captain of our soul’, heartache, loneliness, and despair are the destination. But David writes, “I fear no evil because you (God) are with me.” The valley has to be crossed, just as when God brought Israel out of Egypt they had to cross the wilderness to reach the land of Gods promise. The psalmist writes, “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me.” (Psalms 81:10-11)
When we choose to follow Christ and live by God’s Word, holding tightly to His hand so as to avoid all missteps…. regardless of the obstacles and losses, He promises to fill us up with all that is necessary for the journey and safely getting us home to God’s presence. But it requires listening to His voice and not our own desires. If we want to believe the lie that we are the ‘captains of our own souls’, the Psalmist goes on to reveal the consequences of our choice, “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” (Psalms 81:12) If we want something from God more than we want God Himself, in Love He will give us the desire of our heart… and withhold Himself. When we have seen the glory of God and tasted His mercy and grace, and yet prefer something else, ‘God will give us up to the lusts of our hearts’ (Rom 1:24) Why? Because ‘we have exchanged’ the truth revealed about God, for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.’ (Rom 1:25)
When we grumble against God who gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life, we are not grumbling in ignorance. We know what we are choosing because we have been shown His grace in Jesus. Because even Creation itself cries out to the glory of God in its design and magnificence, we will be held accountable for believing the lie that we can live without God and against His design.
But if we listen to His voice and live in obedience to His Word, God “prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies; He anoints our heads with oil; our cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow us all the days of our life; And We will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Hope’s hand is outstretched and the light of God’s Word reveals the way… you only need to grasp hold in faith and listen… and He will provide you all that is needed for your journey…
Despite the fear and doubts the valley holds. Don’t doubt, just press on and know the joy of His overflowing provision. His goodness and lovingkindness is with those who believe… so press on!
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”
(1 Peter 5:6-8)
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.