Tag Archives: Newlife

Traveling The Valley Of Shadows

I gathered with loved ones to see a star. A star whose light was changing but was still beautiful and at times younger somehow. This star shone despite death’s dark shadow which loomed over the valley where we were, like storm clouds forming in the distance we each knew what was coming.

The line in psalm 23 The Lords My Shepherd, speaks of such a valley, the valley of the shadow of death. This psalm that is still fresh in the memory, one that we see written on cards or spoken at funerals. This is not a valley I am particularly familiar with, though I have repeated the psalm many times. There is another line in its narrative that reads.

“his rod and staff guides me…”

This line gives gives me a sense of forward motion, that it had a purpose. God knew my questions and heartache. Within such moments scripture was read, in the quiet prayerfulness of my private space, it was like holding onto the actual staff of the good shepherd. Just as a child holds it’s parents hand, walking and moving in synchronicity matching the gait of the step and each twist and turn.

To my surprise the valley was a place where love deepened. The shadows had not halted the growth of these precious blooms. Love was experienced in the nurses and doctors care, in the embrace of family, the quiet kiss good bye on the forehead, of the one whose starlight was passing from our awareness to something beyond. Love shone in the glisten of tear filled eyes, and the vigil kept day and night.

As we journeyed together there was occasional laughter, and abundant generosity, where people showed up the best of who they are, to pay respect to the one who was leaving so soon.

Silence would settle like a warm blanket between conversation, people lost in their own thoughts, or listening for the slightest change that indicated that her light was changing.

She was the star in the room, those gathered loved the star that was changing before our eyes, until we could no longer perceive her light anymore.

I am grateful for her light that guided me. However her light carries onwards, into the place Jesus prepares. We can discern the light in our relationships, in the reasons behind the choices we make, in the gifts we share. Giving our lives shape, depth of meaning, and teaching us values of substance that lead us forward.

Farewell Irene.

Overcoming The Darkness

There are moments in life where I have felt worthless, and lying in my bed one night as a teenager soon after I came to Christ, I was in one of those moments, where I believed wholeheartedly in my own personal worthlessness, and general depravity. I was in a dorm room and whilst being surrounded by people felt truly alone. This loneliness had been around me for sometime, increasing its intensity and then lessening as was its way.

In the week that I had given my life to Christ, a woman who we shall called Amanda gave me a cassette tape of a christian country singer, Don Francisco. Lying in my bed that night I reached for my Sony Walkman (iPods hadn’t been invented in the early 90s) I inserted the tape and pressed the play button receiving that reassuring click as my music was piped into my ear phones.

There was one song that struck me, there lying in the darkness, it was as though this bloke was singing directly to me, lyrics that fitted with my emotional state. The song Beautiful To Me, is the story of the woman who knelt before Jesus, tear stained and retched seeking Gods grace. As she wiped his feet with her hair, Jesus forgave, restored and renewed her, and she never heard the condemnation of the hosts in her heart, for Gods grace had filled her heart and protected it from the spears and barbs of the human tongue.

The song led me into Gods presence, a feeling of love I will never forget, an awareness that no matter how literally dark the world can be, the light and love of God can will and does break through.

Did this mean my first year as a Christian got easier? Actually no, it got a lot worse. But I had discovered a friend and I listened to that track of music over and over and over, for it sustained me. I didn’t have access to the bible, and so the song became my teaching, my window into the things of God and what I’d discovered was that he loved me, knew me and was my friend, no matter what hell I was about to step into, he would be there.

Could he have stopped my hardship it? Yes, do I blame him for not stopping it? Not now, because I have grown from it, I have a deeper compassion and awareness of personal hell than I would otherwise have done. And I hope can offer the love and grace I received from God to others who do not have a song, let alone awareness of a God in whose image we each are made.

To you, who are in a fight of your life and are lying on the train tracks of life waiting for the train, or you who are in your own private hell. My prayer is for you today, lean not in your own understanding, but in the one who sees the bigger picture, the beginning and end, and loves you, really loves you, so much that no matter what’s happened, wherever you have been or ended up, His grace is always bigger, more expansive more powerful than the darkness.

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