We sat in a circle, a small group of friends who are truly more like family. We shared our concerns ~ people we know who are face to face with unexpected illnesses and frightening health issues. Unwelcome diagnoses. Symptoms that remain a mystery. Wondering if the days they have left are counting down much faster than they realized or dreamed possible. These are people we love ~ close friends, family members ~ two of whom sat in the circle with us. Wondering, what will the next days and weeks hold?
And I thought about the psalm so familiar to us. Because truth? We ALL have one thing in common. All of us are terminal. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." There it is! We don't recognize it most days. We choose not to acknowledge or dwell on it, and with good reason. But honestly, while we walk this earth, ALL of us journey through this valley. The shadow of death can overtake us at anytime. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow, or even a completion of today.
"I will fear no evil..." How comforting this is! We don't have to be afraid of death. How this frees us to live ~ really live ~ every blessed day we are given.
"For You are with me..." If we can wrap our heads and hearts ~ even a little bit ~ around this game-changing thought, death loses it power over us. HE ~ God who made and loves us ~ is with us. This is the truth that sends fear packing and running. It cannot remain when we grab hold of the knowledge of His presence and let it become our truest reality.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me..." Not only is He with us, we have the reassurance He wants to come alongside and protect us. Always His rod serves a loving purpose. And that staff? If we veer off course, it pulls us gently back to the path He's marked out for us.
Sitting among my circle of friends I look into the eyes of people I love. People who wonder if their days are winding down faster than they'd hoped. And my flesh cries out. Heal them! Please spare them, God.
But the truth is, we are all walking a rugged road in this valley. All of us are shadowed by death. And maybe, just maybe, we can put our fears to rest and make the most of each day we are given. Remembering, we have a Good Shepherd who is with us. Telling us, we have nothing to fear.
I will continue to pray for my loved ones. With all I've got, I will cry out for their healing, and ask God to add many more years to their lives. But I will also pray for their peace as they wrestle and wonder. And I will remind myself ~ none of us is given any guarantees for tomorrow. We only have today.
Copyright 2015 by Julie Cowell. All rights reserved.
"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog -- it's here a little while, then it's gone." ~James 4:14, NLT
"Tomorrow is promised to no one." ~Clint Eastwood