I’ve been told I take too many risks in this world, walking alone as I do, my head often lost in a book. I reassure people that I’m not reading when I journey along unpaved paths, and I keep my eyes open for problems, but in truth, my fate I leave in the hands of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Whether exploring autumn trails like these or strolling along city streets, I know He watches over me. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me,” David sang to our Lord, the great shepherd, in what we call Psalm 23. “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 91 reassures me as shadows along my way mix and merge into darkness. "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,” that psalm begins. “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”
I count on the Lord’s presence, for God Himself tells us in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Similar assurance comes from Deuteronomy 31:8. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
These blessed assurances do not mean we will not suffer conflict or abuse in this world, as I discovered earlier this year when attacked on my way to church. As 1st Peter 4:12-13 tells us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."
Paul talks of this in Romans 5:3-5 — “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Paul offers further encouragement three chapters later: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
His words bring us full circle in this, our journey through life. As Proverbs 3:5-6 advises, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”