"I will fear no evil"
When I was little, we lived on the east coast, but we still had family on the west coast, so occasionally we would come out for a visit. One of those times was in the late 70s, when my sisters and I came out without my parents, to spend the summer. We lived with my grandmother while my mom was redoing each of our bedrooms.
She was very creative about it, my mother. She asked each of us two questions: what color would you like your room, and would you like wallpaper? My older sister said "green and yes" so she got two walls of green and two walls of daisy wallpaper. I said "blue and yes" so I got a light blue room with a wallpaper border around the top of the room. My younger sister said, "pink and no" so she got four walls of different shades of pink. Plus we all got new carpet, and curtains made by my mom.
To this day, I still own those curtains, and the matching comforter. The curtains haven't fit on a window in any house since that one, but I still own them, just in case I can re-use them someday. My daughter used the comforter for a long time, until her tastes changed. Now it's in a trunk, occasionally being re-used.
But back to my grandma's house.
We slept in the room that three of my uncles used to sleep in, and there was a poster on one wall. It was, shall be say, a variation of a portion of the 23rd psalm.
I wonder why people say "the 23rd psalm" instead of "Psalm 23". I mean, I'm sure sometimes people do, but it just flows better as "the 23rd psalm," don't you think?
But back to the poster. I don't remember if it had the whole psalm on it, but it did have the ending. Sort of. It said, "... even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, 'cause I'm the meanest dude in the valley."
I used to lie in bed looking at this tough looking guy, and thinking how weird that poster was. And even at that age, I knew it wasn't true. That meanness isn't enough to get one through when it's really the valley of the shadow of death.
When I was a kid, I always pictured the Valley of the Shadow of Death as the Grand Canyon. But, you know, shadowier. Dark. Scary. And one's life in danger. From what, I was never quite sure.
But now I know that that valley may not necessarily be a place of danger at all. At least not physical danger. I think it's any place or situation that threatens your light, your joy, or your hope. It's a place of worry or anxiety or fear. It's a place of sleeplessness or that nameless funk that accompanies not knowing what's going to happen in your life.
And what's worse, sometimes just be being a shepherd, we have to accompany the sheep into a dark place. It's a place our hearts and minds don't want to go.
But see, that's the thing. This is not one of those things God says we won't have to endure. The verse doesn't say "I shall not walk through the valley..." But He promises us that if we do ~ when we do ~ we need not fear. We shall not fear. We are not alone.
~ "Yea, 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" ~