Desiring to stock my spiritual tool chest, my mother taught me to memorize the 23rd Psalm when I was a small child. The words painted vivid images. I still can see the "valley of the shadow of death," as I learned it. It was deep and lonely with a dark shadow falling over the vulnerable child within. After some life experience, the valley's appearance has changed. Sometimes it looks like a hospital room and a cancer diagnosis; or a living room and a discussion about divorce; or an alley where people scrounge for life's necessities. Whatever it looks like, we are reminded that there is nothing to fear in the valley; the Lord walks there, too. We are invited to dwell in the house of the Lord our whole lives long and to bring that wherever we go. May we always declare the Lord's presence in the valleys of life.
Lord, as much as we would like to avoid the valleys, we often learn more about you within them. Walk with us, Lord; show us the next step. Make even this place, your dwelling place. Amen.
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff-- they comfort me
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.