What’s on my mind? Frustration, despondency, anger, hate, standing at the edge of the sheer cliff overlooking utter and complete darkness of the unknown tomorrow. Every time I try to shine my little flashlight out into the darkness it reveals nothing. By little flashlight, I mean looking into the future for any signs of the path that leads from where I’m at to where I need to be; the other side. I’ve tried for years to find the pathway leading down through the darkness, but every time I find what appears to be a straight drop to a bottomless canyon and a dark valley below. At least, my little flashlight can’t shine bright enough to see any bottom.
Hopelessness often overwhelms me and I sit down and weep, wishing for the comfort which has evaded me.
Occasionally, another person comes by, they appear to be just as stumped as I am. However, a few portray confidence while attempting to convince me they have found a path through the dark canyon. Yet, upon further inquiry, I discover that they are no closer to discovering a path than I have been.
I’ve watched as several people brought ropes and attempt to scuttle down the cliff, most are never heard of again. I’ve even seen some run and jump off. I’ve looked over the cliff and watched as their lights extinguish after only a few feet down into the darkness.
Then one day, I discovered an old dusty book, it lay beside the cliff. I remember people telling of such a book. Although many have quoted some of the books content, most had not allowed it to direct them. The book, dusty and old, appeared to not have been opened for quite some time.
Just as I picked up the book and perused the cover a man walked up and laughingly said, “you will not find any help from that old book, it was written by lost men who perished while trying to climb down the cliff.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
The man replied, “That old book tells us that God created everything, including you and I, and this accursed darkness that keeps us at bay from crossing the doomed valley below.” The man continued, “I’ve discovered that we are the product of millions of years of evolution. Somehow, through some cataclysmic event, this canyon of darkness was born. We; you and I, were birthed from the elements which coalesced, leaving us stuck here on this side, ever changing shape and form through the years.”
I asked the man, “What are we changing shape for?”
“To be better prepared to cross the darkness!” exclaimed the man. “It may not be in our life, but eventually mankind will have changed shape enough that our ancestors will be able to cross that dark valley without any assistance from some old dusty book! The man said as he began to walk away.
Then, as if an afterthought, the man turned and stated, “Science will lead the way!”
“Have you read this book?” I asked.
“No,” replied the man, “someone told me what it said.”
I watched as the man turned and strolled away. There was a sort of slump to his demeanor and he walked as if his head hung low in despondency.
I gave some thought to the man’s words, which seemed as empty and dark as the valley. If his words were true, then there is no hope that I will be able to cross the valley in my lifetime, only hope for my future offspring. But when? What future generation will be better equipped than I, and what form will they take?
I looked back as far as I could see, with the help of many who existed before me, through their writings and artistic expressions, there was no indication of any form change in mankind.
I discovered that the concept of mankind changing shape over time was a recent development.
I read of the hopelessness and despair left in evolution’s wake and how it reaped havoc on mankind’s civility. I looked around and could see madness had crept in and mankind appeared to be acting like animals with no sense of direction. Many no longer looked for a way to cross the dark valley, instead, they looked for ways to numb their brains and escape through pharmacology.
As I studied mankind I discovered that, if evolution were true, the species is reverting to some brutish form of beast; no closer to discovering the path through the dark valley and certainly not taking a better form in preparation for such a trip.
I thought to myself, “How in the world is altering our thoughts through both recreational and medically prescribed chemicals placing mankind in a better position for the next evolutionary jump and training our offspring for the challenge ahead of them?” “No,” I continued to answer myself, “The outcome of such folly is mankind’s total eclipse from truth and purpose!”
Just then, a crazed person came running by me and jumped out into the darkness over the cliff wildly screaming as if they had gone mad. I’ve seen many men and women do the same thing in the past. It is disheartening to watch those with no hope take such measures. It is their response to misleading information; a lie they bought into without further inquiry. They run with the masses and tend to desire “fitting in” with the flow, rather than seeking truth, as it may and can be found by those who are willing to delve truth’s depths.
“No!” I thought to myself, “That man who told me this dusty book is worthless is a harbinger of lies, spreading hopelessness and despair to the masses, all the while spouting theories created by scientists who’ve stepped outside their domain of testing hypothesis in labs and have ventured to the untestable—the un-re-creatable—creation of man.”
I submitted to the impulse of opening the dusty old book and searching its contents. I chose to open the book to somewhere in the middle and began to read,
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
My heart quickened as I read these words. Could it be that herein is a map to crossing the dark valley of death to dwell in the house of the Lord forever?
I pondered this for a while and my thoughts took me to understand that it is the Lord who does the leading through the valley. He is the guide that serves those who are willing to be led through the dark valley.
However, there is something even more mystifying revealed here; through the dark valley the shepherd leads, but even though darkness is all around, there are consistent green pastures and quiet waters along the way. As a servant Shepherd, the Lord’s rod and staff comforts. The rod and staff do not bring fear, but comfort.
“How?” I thought to myself.
I could see the answer almost straight away from asking the question; because his rod and staff keeps any evil enemies at bay.
So then, the Lord not only guides me through the darkness, but instead of a dark valley there are green pastures and quiet waters, but he also protects me from the evil at work in the dark valley which has snuffed the life of all who dare tread there without the Lord’s guidance and protection.
“There is much more here that I do not understand as of yet,” I said to myself.
I determined that as I follow the Lord through the dark valley he would explain to me how goodness and lovingkindness will be in my wake. I would ask him about the significance of being anointed with oil, and how my cup will overflow, for that matter, what is my cup? I want to know more about walking in the paths of righteousness. I also want to watch as the Lord prepares a banquet table for me in the presence of my enemies. Lastly, I gathered as much, that the dwelling in the house of the Lord forever meant the other side of the dark valley.
My mind pondered the journey and I began to daydream of what it would be like. My mind couldn’t begin to wrap around the reality of it all.
Suddenly, I was awakened, as if I was in a dream. I was back at the edge of the cliff sitting with the book opened on my lap. I realized that I had just been granted a vision of truth as it was meant to be.
Then, before I knew of his presence, there beside me stood the Lord. He embraced me and repeatedly told me how much he loved me and how excited he was to have me join him on this journey. He pointed to a well-lit path, and invited me to follow him.
I enquired of him, “Lord, I’ve looked over every inch of this canyon and have never seen this pathway before, how did I miss it?”
The Lord responded, “The evil of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving in order that they are not able to see the path. It has been granted to those who believe to have the eyes of their hearts enlightened in order that they can see Me and follow me through the dark valley to a house I’ve prepared for them.”
As I followed the Lord towards the path, panic came over me as I suddenly realized how unrighteous I am. I felt unworthy and wanted to first clean myself up and then I’d be better prepared for the trip.
The Lord must of knew my thoughts for he turned to me and said, “My child, do not fret over your past! I’ve cleansed you and am leading you from now on through paths of righteousness. There is no preparation that you can accomplish to follow me, only act on what you know to be true by following me in faith.”
He smiled at me, the love beaming from his eyes, as he held out his hand towards the path with a gesture that I should follow.
So, began the journey through the dark valley, the Lord guiding me, serving me in protection, serving me with a spread-out banquet table beyond description in the presence of the enemies who were held at bay by his great rod and staff.
I began to experience what walking in the paths of righteousness is. I discovered that religious devotion and moral conformity had nothing to do with following the Lord through the valley of darkness. The Lord restored my soul as I did nothing but follow him in faith. Every day of the journey the Lord has led me by still waters and into green pastures. I fear no evil for the Lord is constantly and consistently with me.
The more time I spend with Him the greater my understanding of his love for me. Truly, my cup overflows and I am freed from selfishness in order to love others without expectation and kindly serve them.
One day, as I lounged in a beautiful green pasture, I ventured to peer into a crystal-clear pond. No ripples appeared and the reflection off the surface mirrored everything perfectly, as if standing before the threshold of two duplicate worlds bound together by a seam of connection. As I looked at my reflection I noticed a stark change in my soul. No longer was I a man of sin leaving unrighteousness and hate in my wake, I had been transformed into righteousness with goodness and loving-kindness in my wake. The Lord had changed me.
The Lord spoke up, again, as if he could read my thoughts, “Child, you are now a harbinger of love and truth!”