Valley of Shadow

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So on my walk today, I was thinking back to the Living Stream service from Sunday evening. The couple that brought the message shared about their CPE (clinical pastoral education) experience. I could relate because of my own training (10 quarters in KC, MO).
 
Their words, my walk, and my current situation, brought to mind the words from the Shepherds Psalm: 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)
 
Until my walk this morning, I always associated this verse with someone getting ready to die. Or for the family of someone who just passed.
 
But what if, we see it more as a verse that stays with the theme of provision. What if when we feel like we’re walking in the dark, into the unknown, we choose faith over fear, trust in the provider instead of our own wits and abilities?
 
Or…what if our training and experience prepares us to walk with others into their dark valleys. What if we are called to be their light and their comfort. Not everyone can do it. But if God calls us, he will equip us, and he will use us.

Hopefully Devoted: Today Time

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

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I finally purchased my own copy of Jesus Calling. As I shopped at my nearby Christian bookstore, I spied it. I picked up the very nice leather-like bound copy and read the tag-line of the title: Enjoying Peace In His Presence. I was in the midst of a series of messages on “Continuing the Work of Jesus…Peacefully.” Knowing I needed to continue growing in peace and peacemaking, I laid my money down—and I haven’t regretted the decision.

I love how a phrase can cut straight to the struggle of my heart. This morning I found a nugget that stopped me. 

I designed time to be a protection for you.

I had been washing dishes, getting breakfast, and having a running dialogue with God about the frustration I was having with feeling excessive stress, and how it was impacting my commitment to healthy eating. 

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As I walked past the dining room table, I glanced down and saw the devotional. Picking it up, I turned to today, and there it was.

I designed time to be a protection for you.

I have a large new responsibility coming up next week. I’ve been feeling anxious. Doubting my ability. Performance anxiety. 

My head dropped. I was doing it again. Worrying about a tomorrow, about what might be, about things I have no control over. Frustrating myself today. Trampling all over my daily goals, commitments, and opportunities by stressing about tomorrow.

Time. Time is a gift from God. 

Provision. God provides for me on a “daily” basis. Only gather enough manna for today. Give me this day—today—my daily bread. Today is the day of salvation.

God, forgive me for failing to recognize you wise provision and creation. Especially, when it comes to time. Help me to trust you for all my tomorrows and to live more completely in my today. Thanks. Amen.

Selah: What do these stones mean?

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I love walking. I love walking in Arizona when I’m visiting my mom. Feeling blessed to be able to do that this week.

As we travel closer to Palm Sunday and Easter, I have been thinking a lot about rocks.

There are a lot of rocks in Arizona. I took the picture of the rocks on my walk the other day.

I wonder who put them there. I wonder why.

In the Bible, a pile of stones marked a special moment—a sign to remember. In the old hymn, Come Thou Fount, we sing: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’m come.”

Do you know what that means? We aren’t singing about Scrooge. The verse is a thanks to God for his care in bringing us through or to something.

What has he brought you to…or through lately?

The stack of stones stand as a reminder to you, and a testimony to others that we have a God who goes with us (through whatever we’re facing) and brings us to where he needs and wants us to be.

Prayer: God, some of the things we’re facing seem difficult, confusing…okay—downright impossible. We can only get through with you. Help us. Sustain us. And we will give you thanks…and a testimony.

TGIF…No really, thank God

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But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)

That’s what today is all about.

It’s Friday. Jesus is made to carry his cross. They pound nails into his flesh. He hangs there and dies an excruciatingly painful death. And he dies.

He loves. And he dies.

He is the sacrifice to atone–to bring into one. My sin, your sin, our choices to feed our selfishness and our greed have separated us from the One who not only created us, but loves us.

But he didn’t wait to do that after we sinned. He did it before. He did it with us in mind. He did it for us. He did it because of us.

This was God’s plan from before time began.

That’s how much he loves me. That’s how much he loves you.

At our darkest point, he loved us…loves us. Provides for us.

That’s grace. That’s amazing.

PRAYER: On this solemn day, we say thank you for the expanse and expense of your love. Amen.

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