Psalm 23: Shadow of Death

The words of Psalm 23 have run through my mind this past week.

As a child, I memorized this Psalm.

{It’s actually pretty funny, because the Bible translations of today don’t have a version that says it exactly the way I memorized it.}

Here it is, “my version.” [ The ESV is pretty close, though 🙂 ]

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He RESTORES my soul.
He guides me in 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.

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me ALL the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

It’s an amazing Psalm.
There is such truth in it, and such amazing promises to hold onto!

There’s a phrase in there, “shadow of death.” I always picture a deep, dark valley with a menacing cloud over it. It’s always scary.

I actually see something similar to this photo, except void of color, black, depressing…the type of terrain you would have to suck in a deep breath and summon much courage to descend into and hike across.

Valley

What does the word, “shadow,” actually mean?

  1. A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.

  2. Used in reference to proximity, ominous oppressiveness, or sadness and gloom.

I’ve been realizing that:

  • A shadow is not reality.
    A shadow pretends. It mimics. It copies. It hides.
    A shadow can’t actually hurt anything.
    (But it’s easy to be afraid of it, because it looks so real.)
  • A shadow attempts to hide the truth.
    It tries to smother beauty.

The image above is gorgeous. It is living and breathing, full of life and vivid color.
The shadow of death attempts to steal, kill and destroy all that is beautiful, loving, full of life, joyful.

Yes, there are times of real struggle and death and pain and heartache.

But…amid all of it, God still remains. Steadfast. Unwavering.
“I will fear NO evil, for you are with me.”

He goes with us. Before us. Beside us. He is for us. Always.
We needn’t fear even in the midst of what “seems” to be the worst.
It is but a shadow.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)

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I love that. I love HIM. My God is GOOD.
His promises give me strength to walk forward into tomorrow.
The unknown doesn’t seem as scary.
The shadows are still dark, but it doesn’t matter. They’ll flee.
I have a Mighty Warrior who is called Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
He walks beside me.
He holds my hand.
He delights in me.
He fights for me.
He LOVES me.
He loves YOU.

HOLD ON.
He is fighting for you.

The Chase Is On!

“Don’t let the worries of tomorrow chase you through today.
Just do what I’ve told you to do TODAY.”

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You know those things the Lord whispers into your heart...that sink deep into your soul? Yeah, those were His words to me this morning.

Oh how my mind can run in so many different directions!
It leaps and bounds this way, then that way.
It stops for a second, as if to catch its breath…than rebounds with increased frequency.

No wonder I am so tired by the end of the day. My thoughts twirl endlessly inside my skull, bouncing and spinning and running over each other until I don’t know which way is up anymore.

Talk about a big headache.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…do not fret—it leads only to evil.” -excerpts from Psalm 37:7-8

DSC02856 - Version 2I have a love/hate relationship with being still. I yearn for it when I’m in the middle of crazy. Yet when I finally get there, I find myself wanting to find a distraction because I know I have deal with myself and come before God to apologize for not trusting him, again.

Stillness brings focus. Suddenly the stuff I’m worrying about
(aka “not trusting Jesus about”) I am more able to lay at His feet.

My brain is on overdrive and it cries for rest. It needs to peace of its Creator. We weren’t meant to deal with stress. Our bodies protest. Things like pain and sickness and exhaustion all are a result of stress.

Stress doesn’t trust the Lord. Stress strives.

The perfectionist in me comes out this time of year. I want to be intentional. I want to get the right gifts. I miss my friends because I’ve been so busy these past 6 months with travel and settling into work, and at the same time I want to spend all the time with family that I can, because in the coming years, being together will look much different.

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I’ll be honest. It’s just a very weird season.
God never stops changing us, and I love that about Him.

I think I didn’t expect this to be so hard. It’s starting to sink in, the fact that my parents are leaving.
I’ll blog more about that later, so stay tuned.

God has been whispering to my soul.

Grace. Rest. Peace.

I need to accept the fact that rest is okay. This season is okay. I need to have grace for myself, too. I’m not going to let my worries chase me. Instead, let’s chase the worries back with grace.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

As I am constantly reminded of this Christmas season, “Let it GO!”

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