IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH
The sheep was lost in the wilderness. The Good Shepherd sought, found, and saved His sheep. The Shepherd carried the sheep back to His home, rejoiced with His friends because the lost was saved, and secured the sheep in His fold.
The sheep obediently and faithfully followed the Shepherd for many years into lush pastures, beside still waters, and in paths of righteousness.
But now the sheep was very old, weak, and feeble.
The Shepherd came to the sheep and said, “Come with Me one last time.”
The sheep replied, “Lord, you know that I would if I could. But I am so weak that I do not have the strength to even arise.”
So the Shepherd reached down and lovingly lifted the sheep, set him on his feet, and said, “Hold on to Me. I will be your strength. Let us go.”
Off they went into a dark valley. The sheep asked, “Lord, you have never led me into this place before. What is it?”
“This is the Valley of Death,” replied the Shepherd. “My Father’s house is at the end of it. But many foes lie between here and there. But do not fear them! I have my rod and my staff in My hands, and they are more than capable for your defense.
“And although this valley is very dark, do not fear! I know every step of the way. I walked through this valley alone many years ago. I have since then escorted many sheep through this valley, and never lost a single one in it. And I will not lose you.”
The sheep saw movement over his head. “What is that!” he exclaimed.
The Shepherd answered, “That is Death, for whom this valley is named. He looms over this valley, for which reason it is dark. And he slays every one trying to walk through it without Me, and sends them to Sheol and Hades.
“But do not be afraid of Death! I defeated him the first time I walked through his valley, and he gives to Me a wide berth every time I walk through again. He will cast his shadow over you in the hope of scaring you. But he cannot harm you as long as I am beside you. My sheep therefore call this the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”
The sheep heard something behind him. “What is that!” he exclaimed.
The Shepherd answered, “That is Goodness and Mercy. They have followed you ever since the day I found you. But you never saw them. Goodness always observed you, and ascertained that your needs were met. Mercy always ascertained that no harm would overtake you.”
The sheep saw a light on top of a mountain off in the distance. The Shepherd told the sheep that the light was from His Father’s house, and that the journey would soon be over.
The Shepherd, seeing that the sheep was very hungry and thirsty from his journey, led him to a table and seated him at it. The Shepherd then prepared a feast and set it on the table. Ravenous wolves and lions, having smelled the food, and seeing a sheep unable to run from them, surrounded the table. But they cowered when the Shepherd raised his staff and pointed his rod toward them. He anointed the sheep’s head with the oil of gladness, and told him to dine. He poured wine into a goblet until it ran over, and kept pouring, saying that His cruse of wine would never be empty.
The sheep looked toward his would-be-devourers all around him, and then said to them while pointing to His Shepherd: “Jehovah-Jesus is my Shepherd – I never lack! He restored my soul when I was lost and every time I ailed. He led me into pastures so lush that I could lie down to graze. He led me beside still waters where my thirst was ever slaked. He led me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Then looking toward his Good Shepherd, the sheep continued: “Yea, I will walk all the way through this Valley of the Shadow of Death – for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me. Even here in this dark valley deep in the territory of my worst enemy, You feed me sumptuously at this table you prepared for me in the midst of my foes – and my cup runs over. Surely Your Goodness and Mercy shall never cease to follow me.”
Then, with a shout of victory, the sheep exclaimed, “And I will dwell in the house of Jehovah – forever!”
And he does!
– Written on the first anniversary of the passing of Ernest William Parks, “Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death”, February 10, 2013, by his son Daniel Parks.
God’s purpose in sustaining a church in the world is that it may preserve and uphold His truth among men, for the church of the living God is “the pillar and ground of truth.” The Gospel must be believed, practiced, and proclaimed by men of God, or it will not have power. God does not trust the conservation of His truth to books, or to the most accurately written creeds, or to some one person supposed to be infallible, but He puts the incorruptible seed into the hearts of His chosen, and in such good soil its vitality and its growth secure its preservation. Even the inspired Word, as a letter, has small power till it gains a lodging-place for the truth in a warm heart, and then it grows and yields fruit, till its boughs spread far and wide, and its seed are wafted on the wings of every wind, to spring up on the hills and among the valleys where none had looked for them. As long as one copy of the Holy Scriptures remains in the world we shall have the same pure truth among us, but it will be like an unplanted seed. For the propagation of the Gospel, human voices are required; for the establishment and confirmation of it among men, human lives are needed; and God intends that His Gospel shall be set forth, and held up, published, defended, maintained, and supported in the world by His church; not alone by His ministers, nor by a hierarchical establishment, but by the entire company of faithful men. –C. H. Spurgeon
The load will be too heavy for us!
I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year – to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole bundle at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today; and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so forth. We can easily manage our troubles, if we would only carry the trouble appointed for each day. But the load will be too heavy for us—if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of tomorrow to the weight, before we are required to bear it. –-John Newton
Quotes by C.H. Spurgeon
– Every generation needs regeneration.
– It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes us happy.
– He that deserves nothing should be content with anything.
– A lie travels around the world, while Truth is putting on her boots.
-Nobody ever outgrows scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.
You may contact Pastor Walker at any of the following:
773 Lone Oak Road
Cottageville, WV 25239
(304) 372-1407 home
(336) 984-7501 cell