“The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death”
Personal Note: This morning just after 3:00 AM we returned home from our trip out west. We have a lot of catch-up as anyone knows after returning from a long trip and will resume our chaplaincy visitation tomorrow. Over the next several days we will share about our trip with photos, along with an encouragement message based on our observations.
Message summary: Psalm 23 is probably the most famous chapter in the Bible. Many of us have memorized it and we quote it often when ministering to those going through “the valley of the shadow of death” or when we ourselves are going through a dark valley.
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“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).
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back, I know You are near
While out west we drove a lot in our rental car seeking to maximize the value of our unlimited mileage. Initially we wanted to make the circle route around the Grand Canyon to see the canyon as well as several famous national parks in southern Utah. But I thought it would be quite an experience to also go to Death Valley, the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America. In fact it holds the record for the hottest place on earth with the highest ever recorded temperature of 134 degrees F.
It was only about 100 degrees when we were there, hot enough! We went to the Visitor’s Center then drove through the valley to the lowest point, a place called Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level. Tourists were taking turns snapping photos for each other, especially those of us who have not perfected the art of selfies. It’s the only time we’ve ever been more than a few feet below sea level.
“Death Valley was given its forbidding name by a group of pioneers lost here in the winter of 1849-1850. Even though, as far as we know, only one of the group died here, they all assumed that this valley would be their grave. They were rescued by two of their young men, William Lewis Manly and John Rogers, who had learned to be scouts. As the party climbed out of the valley over the Panamint Mountains, one of the men turned, looked back, and said “Goodbye, Death Valley.” (from park website)
Psalm 23 is probably the most famous chapter in the Bible. Many of us have memorized it and we quote it often when ministering to those going through “the valley of the shadow of death” or when we ourselves are going through a dark valley.
David wrote this Psalm and surely knew the experience of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, as many of our readers do. For some it’s a long journey of unknown length. Hopefully we have all been able to say “Goodbye Death Valley” after God draws us aside in the midst of our valley experience and He restores our soul.
However we have on our hearts several who are in the rigorous and austere region of their valley experience, where direction signs are scarce and water is sparse. We were mindful and prayerful of their situation even as we traveled in this desert location. Some of our friends are traveling in the shadow of death. Sometimes that shadow is very dark and it’s hard to find the light.
But today let us consider how the verse concludes:
A resolve: “I will fear no evil.” In the midst of fear this mindset can be very difficult to lay hold of or to maintain. But David had a basis for it with a promise from God that we can also have.
The Promise: “For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God’s abiding presence; His sustaining hand and His faithful guidance is abundantly taught in the Scriptures. And His comforting presence is not only there for the Psalmist, but He is present today for you and for me.
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, *there’s one thing I count on; You’re the same God who never fails and You will not fail me now. In the waiting You’re the same God who’s never late but You’re working all things out. Yes, You’re working all things out so I choose to lift You high in the lowest valley. I will bless Your name and sing for joy even when my heart is heavy. I will choose not to focus on the dark valley or be distracted by its shadows. I choose to see through the valley, past the darkness, and look with confidence to the other side since the dark valley is a place to go through, not a place to reside. You will, by Your grace and goodness, bring me through the valley and restore my soul so that in the end I will stand in triumph on my foes and testify to Your goodness and faithfulness. Amen.
*The words at the beginning of our prayer today are adapted from the song link we present by Vertical Worship “Yes I Will”.
Badwater Basin, Death Valley
The lowest point in the western hemisphere.
We hiked up the Golden Canyon trail, a slot canyon in Death Valley.
This coyote was walking along the long road it seemed oblivious to our presence. intent on eating bugs on the highway. It takes resourcefulness to survive in Death Valley!
It was here that we drank our first Date Milkshake. It was good and sweet!
China Ranch Date truck