I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “the path set before me” as I try to stumble in the direction of the Lord. Two Psalms have been forefront in my mind as I meditate.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even 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. (Ps 23:3b-4 ESV)
The Lord leads us in “paths of righteousness,” which would seem to refer to paths or habits of wisdom, godly living, loving others, etc. As I travel through the dark night, my path feels anything but righteous, approved, or blessed. It literally feels cursed. But when I look at verse 4, I see that even this “cursed path” is in God’s hands. The Bible refers to the dark night in terms of dryness, desert, or as here, the shadow of death. Even though I walk through the valley of deepest darkness, I need not fear because God walks it with me. The darkness does not equal my ultimate doom; it is a tool (very painful and confusing tool!) in the hands of the Master Surgeon. Like Aslan walking beside Shasta in the dark in The Horse and His Boy, the only way Shasta knew anyone was there was Aslan’s breath upon him, and his voice gently saying, “Tell me your troubles.”
In Psalm 16 I see another aspect to this path – it is the path of life.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11 ESV)
This path of righteousness that leads me (currently) through the dark shadow of death is in reality the path of life. Why? because the Author of Life travels with me, and though I don’t currently experience “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” it doesn’t mean it won’t someday happen. I may not even experience it in this life, but when this shadowland existence is swallowed up by life itself – reverberating, pulsating, unstoppable life! – then I shall see that all my paths were in the hands of my tender Father, wisely guiding me through death to resurrection.
Come soon Lord Jesus!