Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our Comforting Shepherd

Chuckle: "I hope you didn't take it personally, Reverend, when my husband walked out during your sermon. It's no reflection on you, Sir," insisted the wife. "Ralph has been walking in his sleep ever since he was a child."
Good Quote: "Your life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it only once." --Lillian Dickson

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, a I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4 (NIV).
Many years back, country music singer, Lynn Anderson, recorded a hit song, "Rose Garden," with lyrics that included this line, "I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden." Certainly we know God has not promised us that life would be a bed of roses or a rose garden. Quite the contrary; even as we follow the Good Shepherd, He promises us that we should expect "dark valleys," trials, and troubles in this life. However, the psalmist affirms God's loving and protective presence even during the most painful events in life.
I suppose one of the reasons death casts such a fearful shadow over us is that in our own strength there is nothing we can do to avoid it. We feel completely helpless in its presence. Unless Jesus returns in our lifetime, we will all experience death. "And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people" (Hebrews 9:27-28 NLT).
Yes, each of us will ultimately face death, but we have the assurance that only our "Good Shepherd" will walk with us through death's dark valley and bring us safely into His presence on the other side. In the uncertainties of life, let's follow our Shepherd whose comfort is not only for the present but for eternity. His protection, symbolized by the Shepherd's club and staff, is all the reassurance we need.
Obviously, there are many dark valleys in life other than facing death. God's people experience all sorts of trials and troubles -- suffering, disappointment, persecution, etc. Listen to the words of Jesus: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV). During our most troubling times, God is revealed not as the one who makes all our bad times into good times, but as the one who will never leave us as He sees us through those bad times.
Even though you explain to a child the medical reasons for a shot in the arm, he will still run to his Mommy for comfort when he sees the nurse ready to plunge that needle into his arm. Comfort comes not by knowing the reason why, but by knowing the comforter.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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