February 2, 2021
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I'm glad I was raised in a part of the country that's a real "four seasons" place, because I love all four seasons! Where I grew up, one of them seemed a little longer than the others. It was called winter. But I think fall is my favorite season of all. I love the blooming beauty of the spring, but my favorite is the blazing colors of those fall leaves. It's not that the leaves have no color the rest of the year, but I've never known people to drive far away to see the beautiful green leaves. They will travel to see the leaves of fall. The ironic thing is that they are about to die at that point. But they are something to see!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Light for Life's Darkest Valley."
Leaves are at their most beautiful just before they die. It can be that way for people, if they're ready to die. Recently, a dear friend's mother learned that she had an incurable cancer and probably just weeks to live. As her family tried, each in their own way, to absorb the shock of that news, Jeanne was doing fine. She told them, "This is what I've been practicing for all my life." She had lived most of her life with a deep love relationship with Jesus Christ, who she was now getting ready to see.
It's that kind of life in the face of death that has echoed across the centuries in King David's immortal 23rd Psalm in the Bible. First, he describes a life in which "The Lord is my shepherd." He's been following the Lord for years and he found that, under His care, "I shall not be in want." He remembers how the Shepherd of his life has led him and loved him and restored him.
Then, in Psalm 23:4, our word for today from the Word of God, he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me." The Lord who has walked with him through every season of his life will walk with him through the valley of the shadow of death and then to the place where he will, in the Bible's words, "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Because of that unshakeable security, because of that unloseable love, our friend Jeanne - like so many I have known - was confident, radiant, and spreading hope until the day she died. In fact, some of her family saw more of that in her than they had even seen before she was facing death. It's like walking on the threshold of eternity brought out a beauty that blessed every life she touched. Jeanne was the first to tell you that it wasn't about her at all. What we were seeing was her Jesus reflected in her.
For many of us, death is the enemy we don't want to think about, we don't want to talk about, we don't want to face. But we will. When it's our final season on earth, you'll either be walking through it with Jesus, who you belong to, or you'll be walking through it pretty much alone. He's really the only One who can walk with you through life's darkest valley. He's walked there Himself, when He died on the cross for the sin that disqualifies us from entering God's heaven. He loves you so much that He took all that sin and all that hell on Himself on the cross. Then, three days later, He blew the doors off death by walking out of His own grave; proving that He, and He alone, can give eternal life.
Jesus has, in essence, turned death from the enemy that destroys everything we have into a friend who opens the gate to everything God has. But if you don't know Him when you die, it will be too late to change it. Now is what we have. Some of us won't have a warning like my friend did. The end of our life will be sudden. The most dangerous thing you can do in your life, the most deadly, is to ignore or postpone or reject Jesus Christ. The Bible describes the eternal life He died to give you as a gift, which means you've got to reach out and take it.
If you've never done that, you want to get your eternity settled once and for all? The Bible says, "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Whenever you can get to a place where you can talk to God, tell Him, "Jesus, you died for my sins. I'm putting all my trust in you. I'm yours."
I'd love to help you do that. That's why we've set up our website. Just go there. It's ANewStory.com.
We're talking here about having life's greatest security. It's life's greatest hope to know that when it's your time to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are going there with Jesus.