The following blog ‘thought’ was written some time ago and ‘filed.’ It was written in a conversational style between me and the Lord. This world in which we live is covered by a shroud of death. We are all affected and one day it will envelop us. The Bible calls it an enemy. We see its impact everywhere. In Psalm 23 the writer believes that there is a way through this ‘Shroud’ which he calls a valley. His point is that the Lord will walk with us and that His rod and staff will comfort us. Could we say they are His word and promises?
I invite you to ‘listen in’ to my talk with the Lord.
Into the Valley of the Shadow.
“The phone call has left me with mixed emotions Lord. The family friend called to say her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. How long he will be in the valley of the shadow of death isn’t certain, but it isn’t a long walk. I found it difficult to put words together without soundly glib, pious or hard hearted. In such times as this I would rather be there and simply give her and her man a hug.
As she talked she expressed her appreciation of the Christian Fellowship both of them enjoyed. Their church is very supportive in practical ways such as meals, being drivers, mowing the lawn amongst other things. Individuals as well as the church family undergird them with prayer and pastoral care.
My friend is dying Lord and we are a long way away. The comforting thing is that they both know you as their Lord and Saviour. He isn’t afraid of dying, but he isn’t really enjoying the pain. Please be to him peace and strength as you walk with him in this valley. We are so fortunate to have a faith grounded in the historical reality of your coming; your blameless life; your substitutionary death, resurrection and ascension. The words of Revelation as so explosive to the believer’s heart, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18. Knowing also you promised nothing could separate you from your people is a real source of comfort.
One of the most beautiful passages surrounding the death experiences of your disciples is found in John 17:24. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Because of your Risen Life, men and women have the opportunity to be born again. This makes them fit to stand in your holy presence. By faith we know you now. Then we will see you face to face! How the hearts of your people long for that glorious day.
It’s such a relief to be able to talk openly with a dying man or woman about death and beyond. Faith in you is so liberating, humbling and at the same time exhilarating. I’m guessing here but I suspect you are saddened by those who reject your offer of pardon for offensive behaviour and attitude towards you and Your Heavenly Father. They travel the valley’s one way track alone to face you the Lord who is their judge, not their saviour.
In times such as this an old song surges to the mind, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. Heaven’s laid up somewhere beyond the blue…” We are pilgrims with a destiny. We take John 14:1-3 on the strength of your promise and your resurrection, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
In upholding my friends to you in their journey of mixed emotions the unshakeable hope we have because of you Jesus is our consolation. The valley of the shadow of Death has been robbed of its terror for your disciples. It isn’t always a pleasant experience but in the light of your word it is short. “Death has been swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
Personal soliloquy. Read and dwell awhile in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.
Postcard from God. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23