I stepped up to the platform and faced the large crowd in front of me. My stomach was churning with nerves. The women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other, looking at me intensely. How would I tell them my story? These people lived continually with the terrifying realities of this country. I had only experienced that terror for one night. Just weeks earlier I’d fled for my life into the night, running through the jungle with my four-year-old in my arms. It was never meant to happen this way, as we arrived in the country of Guatemala on our first missions assignment.
My interpreter turned to me; it was my turn to speak. Out came the words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me . . .” To my complete surprise, people jumped to their feet and began to cheer and dance, expressing great enthusiasm. I continued to share my story, repeating the truth that when bad things happen it does not mean God has forsaken you.
Throughout my life I had struggled with fear, especially when circumstances seemed out of my control. Dependency on God meant TRUST.
That terrifying night I had hidden in the thick jungle with my son, close to the road. The highway bandits continued to search for us. As their shadows passed by me, I was quickly reminded of Psalms 23:3, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil . . .” Suddenly, the Lord’s presence encompassed me. Peace overcame my fear in a way I had never experienced before. I quickly came to realize my only chance of survival was dependency on God, completely trusting Him. When we are placed in a difficult situation and one of total dependency on God, we are given an opportunity to experience Him in a deeper way.
David knew all too well the shadow of death after fleeing from King Saul and hiding in a cave. But, he also knew another type of SHADOW, which he wrote about in the book of Psalms.
Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
Psalm 36:7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Many times I’ve walked through the shadow of death, but the shadow of the Lord has always been closer.
I was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect that was corrected at 12 years of age. Later in my adult years, I battled stage 3B lung cancer and was only given a 3% chance of survival. Lung cancer was followed by stage 2 endometrial cancer. I spent time in ICU with a ruptured bronchial artery in the lung. I spent more time in ICU with a staph infection in the lung. All this to say, this respiratory virus called COVID-19 has tried to take over my heart with fear. But I am reminded of . . .
Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
There is a greater shadow, then the shadow of death. It is the shadow of the Most High, the Almighty, our Lord and Creator!
I look back and choose NOT to forget His goodness and faithfulness to me in times of trouble. King David describes how he would have despaired unless he had believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
The book of Acts tells how God used the Apostle Peter to display His glory.
Acts 5:14-16 More and more believers in the Lord, crowds of men and women, were constantly being added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried their sick out into the streets and put them on cots and sleeping pads, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on one of them [with healing power]. And the people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing the sick and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
If the shadow of a man like Peter, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, could heal the sick, how much more can we trust in God.
Psalm 63:6-8 For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
John 16:33 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.