Sometimes being in the dark is fun. When I’m playing with my grandchildren I allow my imagination to run a little wild. I jump behind a tree or freeze in the shadows so they won’t easily find me.
Other times the shadows make me afraid.
I’m in a place now where I don’t know the outcome of my struggles. I follow Jesus and I’m learning his ways, but I don’t know why things are the way they are. Being in the dark may sharpen my senses, but it’s not always fun.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
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.
Why do I so quickly forget how I came to this place? The psalm starts with “The Lord is my shepherd.” I’m walking through the valley of death shadows because this is where my shepherd brought me. We didn’t come by accident.
It also says he’s the restorer of souls and a shepherd who comforts with his rod and staff. I’m sure if I stop focusing on the pounding of my heart I’ll feel his gentle pressure against my shoulder, directing me down the right path. I’m so glad the psalm doesn’t say we’ll stay long. He’s leading me through the valley, not to it.
This place of not seeing clearly may be uncomfortable, but he won’t abandon me to the wolves that call to my fear.
He is with me, he is leading me, and he uses his tools to comfort me. For now, that’s all I need to know.
It’s satisfying to reach a goal, like when I showed sample pages of my manuscript to my dream editor – and he asked to see more. Or when my publisher offered me a devotional contract. It was also rewarding to pose with dozens of other finalists for the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade award, though I didn’t win this time, for a group photo.
But a greater joy comes when the Bible speaks directly to me in the moment. It happened this week while reading from the book of Luke.
I had been second-guessing my writing abilities all week. My lack of progress with my book made me feel like my feet were dragging through wet concrete and getting nowhere.
That’s when the Scriptures clearly spoke to me.
Jesus taught a group of his followers how to approach people with the good news of the kingdom of God, then he sent them out to the towns he planned to visit.
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Kathy, don’t dwell on your successes. God sees everything from beginning to end, and you’ve only done what he sent you to do. It’s great you made it to the top of a mountain. Enjoy the view, but don’t even think of pitching your tent there. You don’t get to stay. Now it’s time to prepare for the next climb. Wait till you see what’s ahead!
And don’t let yourself feel dejected because you haven’t finished your book. Instead, rejoice that your name is written in his book. Nothing is more amazing than that. Absolutely nothing.
I love studying the Bible. This year I found a new way to help others with their Bible reading. It’s called the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid.
The Grid, hashtag #bgbg2, contains a list of bloggers whose posts include references to the Bible and are linked to BibleGateway.com, the most visited Christian website in the world (with over 150 million views per month).
I’ve been using BibleGateway.com as a resource for several years now. It helps me confirm I’m quoting verses correctly, and I can compare multiple translations. And there are many other features on the site as well. I’m honored to link my blog with them.
This morning I stumbled upon Psalm 150 and couldn’t pass by it without responding. (I’m praising quietly, though; someone I love is still in bed.)
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”