don't know what you're going through today, but I am sure
there are many people experiencing tough times. All of us
are going through times and circumstances and situations
where we feel the pain of existence but we have to remember
that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, our Lord, is there
to carry us through those valleys, to move us through those
tough times and into the beautiful, glorious splendor of
His holy city.
have traveled throughout my life and I have seen some incredible
sights. I have had the privilege of studying a lot
of the archaeological excavations around the world. In fact,
my major in college was ancient civilization so I have studied
most of them. I've been to the Acropolis, I've been
to the Islands of Crete, and I've been to Israel. I have
seen many historical archaeological sites and without question
one of the most spectacular archaeological sights on planet
earth happens to be a place called Petra.
happens to be in Jordan. Jordan is a tough place to get
to; it's just East of Israel in the Middle East. I'll
never forget the first time I went to Jordan. You drive
from Amman, for several hours, until you finally get as
far as you can go by car and from there you have to travel
by horseback through a long narrow valley that is about
two miles long. It's a deep valley where you can't see the
top of the rocks and the rocks twist and turn so you cannot
actually see the sky above. You are constantly in the shade
and the shadows of the rocks and for several minutes you
ride until finally you get through the valley and there
before you is this incredible temple which actually is really
just one big room. It might have been somebody's house,
or it may have been a tomb, we don't know.
is exciting about this valley is there once was a population
there which began 600 years before Christ and there was
up to 5,000 people that lived there at one time, so it became
quite a metropolis. They carved out of the side of
the stones and they carved amphitheatres and they carved
homes and they carved the treasury which is the temple that
is also known as the treasury. They carved all these spectacular
buildings out of the side of the cliffs. But the only
way you can get there is to go through the valley. Our lives
are similar to that situation where God leads us and takes
us through the valleys because he has a blessing for us,
untold blessings that we can't begin to imagine.
So my prayer for you today is that:
- You may have enough happiness to make you see it;
- You may have enough trials to make you strong;
- You may have enough sorrow to make you human;
- You may have enough hope to make you
we travel through life there are a few things we can know.
First of all we know that God will take us through the valleys.
We all have valleys that we are going through.
also know as we go through the valleys we have to be the
person that God has called us to be. Not the person
that God has called someone else to be, but the person that
God has called us to be. What do I mean by that?
before he was King, was just a Shepherd boy. He came
and he faced the philistine giant, Goliath. The first
thing that happened when he prepared to face Goliath is
that Saul, the King, came and he said, "Let me give
you the best armor I have; take my armor and I'll put it
on you and you'll be protected to face Goliath." Picture
the Shepherd boy, with all of this heavy armor, weighing
him down and he wasn't able to move. I believe he thought,
"God didn't equip me to move and to live like this,"
so he took the armor off and picked up 5 stones and he faced
Goliath with his sling shot.
has called all of us to be the person that makes us unique,
to be able to look in the mirror and see the beauty God
has created and say, "I am God's child created for
a purpose and for a reason." As a result of seeing
the beauty in ourselves we are able to love others.
Mabovitz was a child attending grade school in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. She was raised in utter poverty and all
of the kids saw her as the outcast and that's the way she
spent her life. In fact her life was so impoverished that
the school administrators came to her house one day and
scolded her parents for not giving her a good lunch at school
and not giving her the adequate tools she needed to be able
to do her work. They were immigrants; they couldn't
understand a single word that was said to them, so they
just served tea and said, "Thank you, goodbye."
When Golda looked in the mirror as a young child she
just saw the outcast. But God had a different plan.
the age of 70 she returned to that school, where she was
invited to come back as an honored guest. She stood before
the group of people who had gathered there and she addressed
them, her name was Golden Meir, Prime Minister of the state
of Israel. What does God see in the least of things?
What does God see when he looks into your eyes?
sees the beauty and the potential and the opportunity to
be able to shape and mold a life. The Good Shepherd
leads us through the valleys of life that we might experience
the bounty and the beauty that He wants for us.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil." What is the greatest fear
that we face today? I believe the fear we face is
the lack of faith to keep on keeping on; to keep on striving
and trust that God will truly lead us through.
is an old story of a man who stepped a little too close
to the edge of a cliff looking at the view and he slipped
and fell. As he fell there was a branch and he grabbed
a hold just at the last minute and dangling above these
jagged rocks below, he yelled out, "Is anybody out
there? Is anybody up there, help!" Pretty soon
he heard a voice saying, "I am here." He replied,
"Who's there?" The answer came, "It
is God." The man said, "God save me."
God said, "Let go." The man replied, "Is
there anybody else up there?"
is the way we often treat God. He leads us through the valleys
and in our fear we are afraid to let go and allow God to
do his bidding in our lives. God says, "Let go and
trust me." Yea though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. The evil we fear
today is the lack of faith to put our trust in a loving
God who won't lead us and dump us in the valley but He will
carry us through the valleys. He allows these things to
happen to us to make us strong and to create compassion,
to create hope, to develop love.
Naomi Remen, M.D. is the author of "Kitchen Table Wisdom"
a book that was on the New York Times best sellers list
a few years ago. She is the founder of the Commonwealth
Cancer Help Program where they have retreats and people
will come there who have cancer and spend a week there trying
to discover the presence of God and how He can have a positive
impact on their lives. In her book she tells a story
of a man named Itzhak who was a survivor.
was liberated from the concentration camps in 1945 and he
came to America to work and became a research physicist.
One day he was diagnosed with cancer and he starting going
through the valley of cancer. He discovered the Commonwealth
Cancer Help Program and went to one of their retreats.
Dr. Remen told him, "What we do here is we show people
a lot of love, we hug everybody." Even though
he didn't feel comfortable hugging people he let them hug
him and he thought to himself, "What is all this hugging
about, what is this love to strangers?" But that is
what he did and after 4 days of all this hugging stuff,
he had a vision.
his meditation he saw a light. The light started in his
heart and it grew and it encompassed his whole body and
then his friends and his neighbors walked into this light
and Jesus walked into this light and he didn't understand
it. By the end of the conference he was able to come to
the conclusion as to what was going on. Dr. Remen came to
him and said, "Tell me about your vision."
He replied, "I said to God, is it ok to love strangers?
And God said, Itzhak, what is this strangers? You
make strangers, I don't make strangers." Itzhak
hit a point in his life where he could love everybody.
carries us through the valleys, to break down the barriers
which keep us from experiencing His love and being the person
that He has called us to be to love our neighbors.
today, I want you to pray a prayer with me. The prayer says
"Oh Lord, give me the self-esteem to believe in myself,
And the vision to see where you want this child to be,
Then give me the faith to carry it through
And the wisdom to know I did it with you."
Stevenson gave us a story that has swept America; it's a
perfect illustration of God's love for us. A man dies and
he sees his life as footprints in the sand. He sees
one set of footprints until he accepts Jesus Christ as His
that point on he sees two sets of footprints until he comes
to that point in his life where it was the darkest of days
and he didn't want to go on and he contemplated suicide
and he wished he was dead. At that time suddenly there was
just one set of footprints again. When he got through
that tough time he saw the two sets of footprints one more
time and he looked at God and he said, "Where were
You when I needed You the most?" God looked at the
man and He said, "I was carrying you."
today I ask you to pray. Carry me Lord, carry me through
these toughest darkest days and lead me through the valleys
into that Promised Land that you have for me.
God, You are good. You are gracious and You are loving
and today You are calling us to be the person that You created.
You are calling us to be the person you envisioned as You
created a love between a man and a woman and a child was
born. You gave me my name. Today I give my name to You.
I give my heart to You, I give my life to You. I give
my burdens to You, I give my struggles to You. I give
my hope to You, I give You my all. Take me Lord, just as
I am, and give me the faith to let go when You call.
I love you Lord. Amen.