Summary: All of us have to face death, but not all of us have to fear death. A valley is not a dead-end or a cul-de-sac, but rather a tunnel opened on both ends.
The late great trumpet player Louie Armstrong tells a story about while growing up in Louisiana, having to go down to the pond and getting water for Allie May. He gets down there and is about to scoop the water out of the pond and all of the sudden coming out of the water are these two huge eyes looking right at him.
He runs to the house and Allie May says “Where is my water?” And Louie Armstrong says, “I just couldn’t get it”. Allie May asks him “Why not?” And little Louie says, “There’s a huge alligator in the pond and I’m not going near that pond”.
She then say, “That old critter has been down there forever, and that old critter is just as afraid of you as you are of him.” Louie says, “Ms Allie May, if that alligator is as afraid of me as I am of him then that water ain’t fit for drinking!”
Now fear all together is not all bad. We teach our kids….
We also are taught to fear the Lord. As parents, that’s the greatest fear we can put in our children.
Matthew 10:28 “Jesus said, “Do not fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and body in hell.”
Kathryn Hepburn said at 81 years old, “I look forward to oblivion. I am what is called “gradually decentergrading”. I don’t fear the next world or anything else. I don’t fear hell and I don’t look forward to heaven.”
I will be honest with you; there is a certain part of me that fears dying, but not death! How I will die, suffering, etc.
But I’ve got good news for us: you and I will only go through death once!
I’ve never shared this with you before, but I had a near death experience once. It changed my life and I’ve never been the same since. I was horse back riding and the horse got out of control and was bouncing all over the place like a pogo stick. It took all my strength to hang on, but I got thrown off it. But the scary part was that my foot got caught in the stirrup and my head was bouncing faster and faster on the ground. I thought that I was going to lose consciousness, I was losing all hope! I Thank God that right then the K-Mart manager came out and unplugged that horse!
3 Thoughts About Fear:
• “Fear always springs from ignorance.”
• “If your heart is fearful, you are not living up to what you believe.”
• “Fear knocks at the door; faith opens the door and says, “Get back Jack!”
LifePoint: All of us have to face death, but not all of us have to fear death.
1. Don’t Be Afraid of Death’s Power.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”
There is a “Shadow of death” in Israel. It runs between Jericho and Jerusalem. This valley or canyon is so deep that part of it never sees the whole sun. David seems to compare that valley to death!
Has it ever occurred to you that we are the only beings created who know that we are going to die! Dogs, cats, sheep have no clue!
David talks about an experience that every shepherd knows about, because when the pastures in the low lands are dead and the water is gone, the shepherd knows it is time to move on up the mountain where it’s cooler, greener and wetter. But why through the valley?
The reason is - the only route to higher ground is through the valley! You can’t get to the mountaintop unless the shepherd goes through the valley!
THIS IS WORTH COMING TO CHURCH FOR…Fear many times keeps us in the lowlands of life, when God is trying to move us up!
Joni Erickson Tada says this about fear: “Fear manipulates you with the mysterious, to taunt you with the unknown. Fear to death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow, his arsenal is vast. His goal - to create cowardly, joyless souls. He doesn’t want you to make the journey to the mountain. He figures if he can rattle you enough, you will take your eyes off the peaks and settle for a dull existence in the flatland.”
The shepherd also knew that the trip through the valley was only temporary! Maybe 2 or 3 days at the most!
Notice that David says, “Walk through”, not around, or run through it!
Folks - a valley is not a dead-end or a cul-de-sac, but rather a tunnel opened on both ends.
Notice David gives the valley a name “shadow of death”.