Dear Precious Friends,
On this TGIFF, we are so grateful for the gift of a new day and knowing we are forgiven by our Lord and the price He paid for us makes our gratitude soar. We know why He still has us here and it is our purpose to share Him with all we come in contact with.
We've been talking this week about valleys we all walk through. You are either in a valley, coming out of a valley or getting ready for a valley. We go to God's word for wisdom and guidance on how we are to prepare and respond.
When David was in the valley, he stopped talking ABOUT God and he started talking TO God.
Have you ever noticed how the pronouns change from the first three verses to the last three in Psalm 23?
The psalm opens with, “He leads, He guides, He restores,” but David adjusts his language to “… for YOU are with me; YOUR rod and staff comfort me.” It’s no coincidence this shift happens in the valley.
Martin Luther said,
“The thing that separates Christianity from all other religions is its personal pronouns.”
David knew the value of crying out to God.
Over and over throughout the psalms, he recorded this phrase,
“Hear my cry, O God.”
The same shepherd-psalmist who didn’t hesitate to talk to the shepherd-Savior is the one who testified,
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
In the valley, do what Jesus did in his darkest hour in Gethsemane. He prayed “Abba, Father,” and invites us to do the same.
(Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6)
Don’t equate darkness with distance.
Draw close to the shepherd and talk to the shepherd.
The word is through — through the valley. The place of shadows is not a permanent home.
When the darkness closes in and you don’t know what else to do, just take the next step. Do the next thing. Hold on for a little longer. Keep walking, even if it is with a limp.
JUST TAKE THE NEXT STEP.... WOW... SO TRUE.. I can tell you when in the valley when we lost my Mom, Mother in law in the same 3 weeks, unexpectedly. My Mom went to the ER to be checked from her heavy breathing the day before I was leaving for my mother in laws celebration of life, and was intubated 6 hours later and the next 18 days were the most difficult of my life holding her hand, praying, ups and downs with the Dr's thinking she could come out of the intubation, even using a rotoprone bed to improve lung function, only to be told she wasn't going to make it. She was my best friend and was a part of my life every day of my life. Then just a few weeks after her celebration of life, and just as I was trying to get my ability to take the next step, Reese's our precious morkie we adopted and loved so much, was attacked in our garage while he was protecting Rick from a very deranged mama bear who was relentless. 2 weeks in intensive care at the dog hospital we were deeply shocked when we transferred him to a place that was "supposed" to be able to handle his needs that came highly recommended from family, and on a visit to see him, they weren't expecting us and they brought him out to me in his final breaths. I was there with excitement to see him and they brought him to me in his last moments of his life. When we left the animal hospital to transfer him, he was doing great, and on a visit that I brought my friend with me in excitement and anticipation of his continued healing, my friend and I were absolutely in shock as I held him and he took his final breath... which was shocking... and a hurt so deep... the tv stations and our entire community were cheering our sweet Purple Heart Hero on, and talk about shock and unbelief! The place we transferred Reese's to was completely dishonest with us and led us to believe they could handle his continued care... when I called the vet after Reese's passed in my arms, he was on vacation and if things weren't bad enough, the person who was with him yelled at him to get the blank off the phone when I was crying asking him how he could lead us to believe they could handle Reese's...
It was unbelievable. My friends I have been in some deep valleys and I know you have also walked through so many difficulties.
How do we pull ourselves out of the valley...??
Keep walking by faith, not by sight. You can’t afford to stop and analyze why you had to enter.
Faith chooses to survive what it cannot explain.
God never did explain the valley to Job. The phrase “valley of deep darkness” is used nine times in the book of Job. Job was on the right path, but he never did understand why God sent him through the valley of deep darkness.
Survival-grade faith declares,
“It is enough to know that I know the shepherd and He is guiding me for His name sake. God wouldn’t lead me anywhere if it couldn’t bring Him glory and me good.”
So Keep Walking. There is a better place. The shepherd has promised to get us there.
Matt Redman was interviewed about his song, “Blessed Be Your Name,” written in the weeks following 911:
“It’s really a song born out of the whole of life —
a realization that we will all face seasons of pain or unease.
And in these seasons, we will need to find our voice before God.”
So in 2018 when I entered my own totally unexpected valley; it caught me off guard in every way imaginable.
Initially, I handled it with staunch resolve and faith. But as the issues dragged on and the complications mounted, I became weary and lost my way. I took my eyes off the Savior and only saw the storm. And I lost my “voice.”
When God began to get my attention, He did so by calling me to praise Him in the middle of the storm. The first part of my voice He rescued was the part I used to praise Him.
The praise returned my eyes to the Savior and slowly my voice returned fully. And now I write so others might hear and recognize the song. I could not speak words of comfort had I not first been comforted.
“… the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
(2 Cor. 1:3-4)
(That’s a lot of comfort!)
The shepherd’s presence changes everything
Before I went through the valley, I believed in God.
But it was during my time limping beside Him through the darkness that I learned whether or not I believed Him.
(There is a difference.)
After Reese's went to dog heaven, we had to call Branson who was at Samford University to tell him about Reese's (his dog we adopted and found on his own. Noone wanted him because at the time of adoption he was shaved from being out on his own for a month (his previous owner dropped him off in the wilderness area), we fell in love with him and he was the most beautiful dog after his hair grew back, so loyal, so loved...
The shepherd never left me in the darkness and it was the shepherd who pulled me back from the edge.
I didn't know my Dad would then be in and out of the hospital as is Parkinson's got worse quickly from the heartbreak of my Mom's passing... then we had to try to find a place for him as his condition was so much worse...
Many of you know what this is like.. (my strong Dad, always full of wisdom, guidance and the right answers to life's difficulties, was before our eyes, experiencing very difficult progression of his disease, and then we took him to the hospital to be checked out with a sore throat and we wanted him checked.... in the hospital has a heart attack... and didn't regain consciousness when we found out his brain activity was gone... and we had to make the decision to take away life support...Just unbelievable after all we had been through... 2 days before we were having his birthday party that never happened... Just so unbelievable...
If you are in a valley, I pray these few words will lead you back to the side of the shepherd.
Once you’re in a valley, the only way out is THROUGH it and the best place to be is BESIDE your shepherd-Savior.
Psalm 23 doesn’t promise
the absence of shadows.
the continuing presence
of the shepherd in the midst of them.
And dear friend, that changes everything.
An artist knows you can’t have a great picture without shadows; The divine artist knows the same.
Faith is not immune to trials ~ Faith is fueled by trials .This doesn’t mean the valley is easy, but it does mean our pain, our trial, and our journey will not be wasted. If your path is currently through the valley or you see one in your future, these truths make the difference in the ability to endure and use these difficulties. I had no idea after these valleys, there would be many more to come, including my husband Rick's aggressive cancer that came out of nowhere.... during Covid... that has given us entirely new perspective on the unexpected valleys that hit us out of nowhere, yet on how God provides all we need according to His riches in Christ Jesus...
Out of the valley has come such great blessing, such great wisdom and experience what it means to walk in the spirit... to understand healing and freedom that comes from the Lord.... Just no words to express the deep deep joy that God has given us in the valley.
While the grief is deep and the sadness and pain I've never experienced before has been at times debilitating and paralyzing and taken my breath away. It literally knocked me off my feet... and until you experience losses like these, it's hard to understand the depth of the pain someone close to you experiences. The pain has transported me and changed the way I see everything... and God has met every need to a level of understanding I've never experienced.
The valley has been such a great gift to us. All the ways God has walked me through and put mighty giants in our life, deep friendships have become even deeper, the joy we have from the incredible community of love and support has given us a joy that is unspeakable.
Wow... my friends, I didn't expect to share all this today, but on this amazing TGIFF... I pray that by sharing what I've walked through, it encourages you through the valleys you are in or will be in.
Please listen to this song...just amazing truth.