"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;" Psalm 23:4a
In a sheep's life, there are times when their shepherd will take them on a journey; a journey that will lead them through a valley that may seem rough, but their good shepherd is right beside them leading them through to the other side. If they keep their eyes on their shepherd while walking, he or she will guide them to the freshest, purest water and guide them through the scariest, dangerous spots on their path. If they decided that they do not want to go because it looks too hard, they would make things worse for themselves and for the other sheep with them. This is why they have to trust their shepherd, as he or she knows what is best. Their shepherd knows that on the other side of this valley is the higher plain where the richest, greenest pastures lie. In order to get there they have to go through the valley.
In our Christian walk, we will go through valleys in our lives. We can choose to fight, hide or walk hand in hand with our Great Shepherd. He knows what is best in order for us to get to the " higher plain" in our walk with Him. He knows where we can find refreshment along the way, He knows when we will need to be carried as we walk through the most difficult parts of the journey and once we arrive to where the "higher plain" is, we will have the sweetest fellowship with our Great Shepherd.
I know this journey all too well. I have learned to call these journeys "blessings", because when I am trusting His heart through the journey, that is when He shows me His heart and the blessings I receive are like the luscious, green pastures the sheep long for. Two of the journeys, valleys, the Great Shepherd took me and my family through was the deaths of our daughter and granddaughter. There are many more, but I think these two particular journeys, I truly needed to be carried at spots along the way, but then we would come to a spot of refreshment where someone was an encouragement to my family or I. At times it may have seemed dark and scary, but the fact I knew the Great Shepherd was holding my hand, leading each step of the way, I was able to come to the "higher plain" and have sweet fellowship with my Great Shepherd.
How can we face the trials that come our way? Well, we can learn to face them calmly with Christ. His gracious Spirit will guide us as we face them fearlessly. He reminds us in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." What a great reminder!
For us to reach a more intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father, we will have to go through these valleys/trials. What’s so amazing is, we are not going through it alone. The Great Shepherd is guiding us and even sometimes carrying us through those “valley of shadows”. He gives us great benefits and lasting gratitude from our valleys. We in turn are able to comfort others. It is in the valleys that we find strength and courage from our Great Shepherd. He guides and sustains us through our darkest times and our faith is renewed if we keep our eyes fixed on Him.
In the painting, you see Jesus, the Great Shepherd, carrying the sheep on His shoulders as He prepares to walk through the valley, but in the background you see light. Our Great Shepherd has no fear as He takes us through the valley, because He has been there Himself. His valley was the deepest and darkest valley there ever was and yet He went through it for us because He saw the LIGHT at the end! He is the best guide because He has walked the same path before and He knows how to comfort us. What better place to be than to be Carried by the Shepherd.
In this special blog series, I painted Psalm 23 verse by verse, personalizing the verses from a sheep's devotion to their Great Shepherd. Each picture is painted on a roof slate with acrylic paint. There are a total of 12 blogs when completed.