Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. - Psalms 23:4 KJV
As I think about that phrase it's pretty easy to think of 2020 as the valley of the shadow of death. Between the pandemic, civil unrest, and the overall disruption of American society it's easy to feel like there's darkness closing in all around us. Regardless of your personal politics, religion, or financial situation we are all more isolated and alone than we've ever been. The author of this passage may have been speaking of a literal walk through a valley alone and surrounded by enemies, but I know I've resonated with the feeling of oppressive doom many times these past six months.
Those feeling elicit some hard questions:
How are my kids doing?
In the midst of this, am I leaning on God in a way that's helping them know where the source of real courage comes from?
Have I taken time to pray with them, read scriptures, or be Jesus' hands and feet in this time?
How about you, how are your kids doing, in the valley of the shadow?
Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I disconnect from my own friends and turn off the Xbox to sit and pray with them. It breaks my heart to know my kids are feeling lost in the valley of the shadow of death and I can do nothing for it. But God can, and does provide comfort in this dark time.
Unfortunately, I don't do that enough. I've got a lot going on, and I tend to focus on tasks more than people. With two adult children and a high schooler, I'm more apt to get wrapped up with my online buddies taking on the next galactic threat than a family devotion.
Some might say "you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others." That's fair. I get it. If I'm a strung out wreck, even if I "pull it together" for a minute to help my kids, they aren't getting the best God can bring. So I have to ask myself:
Have I engaged God daily to receive the discipline of the rod to see where I'm falling short of his expectations?
Have I paid attention to the guidance of his staff to stay on the path he'd have for me?
How about you, is your oxygen mask fully activated?
I don't have all the answers, but I know God does. What I find the most amazing about God is his timing and orchestration. I had the idea for the book Fear No Evil eight years ago. The three siblings who had been together all their lives, lost and alone in a dangerous place with only their faith to help them win the day. I can't think of a more appropriate theme for parents to sit down and discuss with their kids right now than, how God is helping them through the valley of the shadow. I take great comfort in knowing God's timing is perfect and that I can help share the message that through Christ Jesus we can fear no evil.