Going Through, Part II

Click to read Part 1.

When I was writing the first “Going Through” article a couple of months ago (seriously, where does the time go??) I was already thinking of part 2.  Unfortunately, rather than sitting right down and writing it then, which would have been the smart thing to do, I waited.  Now, I have two completely unrelated thoughts racing through my head and absolutely no thoughts related to the topic at hand.  But if I don’t try it now, I may never try it.  So I am gong to jump in and start…going.

I took the title of these articles in reverse.  The first article focused on the second part of the title – the “through” part.  This article, then, is on that all important first word.  The “going.”

Unfortunately for us, not only is “through the valley” not always the most pleasant experience, through doesn’t even begin to happen without us first going.  Life is not a scenic bus ride.  We don’t get from here to there without a little work.

David said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4a). 

Even though I walk…

This is not a passive verse.  It starts with an action.  It starts with David stepping forward into a very scary place.  He is not being carried through the valley.  He is also not going quickly through the valley.  (How I wish I could speed through the valleys!)  No, David is walking.

In the NIV translation, this passage continues “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4b).  I love the verb tense of this line.  It doesn’t say, “I am not afraid right now.”  It says: “I will fear no evil.” Future tense, definitive.  Like a promise.

For David, fear was a choice, and he willed himself to not be afraid.  How?  Because God was with him.

This is powerful, but I think we do ourselves and David a disservice if we think it is easy.  I don’t believe we can walk into a dark valley and say, “I will not be afraid!” and have all fear immediately vanish.  Our emotions are not tied to a switch that we can flip on and off at will.  I think David probably was afraid.  In fact, we read lots of David’s writing where he is clearly terrified.  But I think he is talking here about a different kind of fear.  Not just what we feel, but what we believe.

We can feel afraid but still trust God enough to go.  Our actions can declare, “I will fear no evil,” even when our emotions say otherwise.  Sometimes it is during our slow walk through the valley – not before – that God’s presence becomes real enough for us to believe, if not actually feel:  I will fear no evil, for you are with me. 

Fear is the devil’s ploy.  Fear can prevent us from going through the valley… but only if we let it.  David knew, as we should know, that even in the darkest valley, God is with us.  His rod and his staff are there to comfort us. 

I may feel afraid, but I will not be afraid.  When God calls, I will lace up my walking shoes and go.

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)

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