Have you ever walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death?
If you have, this passage most assuredly has a deep meaning for you.
To begin with, currently I am not walking that path. No, my path today was one of many errands which included a fiddle lesson, picking up vegetable seeds to exchange with a new friend in Russia, dropping books off at the library, stopping at the local farm store to see what kind of seed potatoes they have (I'm looking for the purple kind and can't find them anywhere), and grabbing some groceries among about a dozen other things to do.
I'm usually pretty focused when it comes to running just one or two errands, but when I try to squeeze everything into one day, well my mind doesn't want to cooperate. I'm easily sidetracked, I lose focus, and I get frazzled. I had a list, which I followed very well. My problem is time. In trying to take my time and focus, I lose track of time and run late and then have to rush to get everything done.
So here I am, frazzled, rushing around wondering how in the world I'm going to get everything done and then I ran into an old friend. You know when you are so extremely busy that you don't even want to stop and say hello to someone? That was the point I was at and I extremely dislike being that type of person.
This time I had to stop. I had to offer her my sympathies from the surprising news I had just heard earlier today. Even after hearing the news, I never thought I would run into her anytime soon and here she was.
Now I have to say that this gentle, kind woman was someone I didn't know until our daughters were involved in an activity together. We spent a year bringing them back and forth to practice and all over the countryside to different events. Our families began to get to know one another. After a year of that experience, we decided not to continue the activity and I hadn't seen this dear lady since ... until today.
I came around the corner of an isle while shopping for groceries and there she was. She wasn't walking very well and she had a cane in her cart.
I have to back track a bit here to a few months ago when the news came of a man and his father that were killed by a train in one of our local small towns. The news was tragic. They worked together and crossed that crossing all the time, but somehow didn't see the train. This small town was miles from the town I was in today, so I never put two and two together. I saw the names in the newspaper, but it didn't register.
The man was my friend's husband and because another friend pointed it out to me this morning, I finally put two and two together. My daughter and I were stunned. Her little friend's Daddy was gone. My friend's husband was gone, and here she suddenly was in front of me, limping with a cane.
I offered her my condolences and we talked about her loss. This was a different woman than the woman I used to know. Today she was quiet, she was kind and she was gracious. Now don't get me wrong, she was a great gal before, but she was a career woman, busy, always on the go.... run run run. That was not who she was today.
I kindly asked her about her cane and she began to tell me that her journey started last summer when she was in an accident on her way to work. A boy crossed into her lane and hit her head on. Her left arm and both legs were broken.
Since that time, her step father has passed away, and more recently she has experienced the loss of her husband, the father of her children and her father in law.
She is still walking through her valley of the shadow of death, but she is gracious, she is kind and she is hopeful.
The business of my day fell away as I looked into her eyes and knew that I could in no way comprehend what she had been through and was still facing in raising her children without their father.
My heart cries for her.
I pray she is fully leaning on God's grace.
She showed no bitterness.
She showed no anger.
She showed no self pity.
I have been through my own valley of the shadow of death and I know what kind of strength it takes to get out of bed each day, but to go through what this dear lady is experiencing and still be able to walk in the grace of God with hope, takes more than I can understand.
Thankfully, I don't need to understand. I don't need to have all of the right words to say to her.
But I can pray for her ....
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me ...
what a comfort, and today I was given the opportunity to comfort her.
Thank you Lord.