Ps 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect me.

Most of us have heard this verse quoted during dark times in our lives like funerals or tragedies. But often verses like this can become so familiar as to lose much of their meaning. We just read or hear the words but don’t allow their truth to come into our lives and help us. If you have lost someone during these past few months or if you are having financial problems, this is truly a dark time. For others, this pandemic can be frustrating or irritating or seemingly endless. Whatever you are walking through, God is there walking close beside you as a shepherd would with his sheep.

If you have been a Christian for a while, likely you have heard about what a shepherd does with a rod and staff. A rod is an offensive weapon about 2 ½ feet long, often with a mace like end embedded with heavy iron. The shepherd used this to protect his sheep from wild animals. The staff had a crook on the end and was used to guide the sheep if it started off on the wrong path.

It’s good to know these things and to understand that God is our protector and guide. All through the Bible we hear of people like David saying that God is our fortress and our shield. A fortress is only a protection if you go inside and a shield deflects arrows only if you are under it.

The question for me has always been, am I letting God protect me and guide me? Am I trying too hard to protect myself and guide my own steps and not allow the God of the universe to help me? I has become clearer for me during this difficult time that I need God’s help even more. Spending time with Him in the morning to ask for his protection and guidance and to allow time for Him to guide me has helped. Also reflecting on the many times I have seen His rod and His staff at work in my life strengthens my faith that He is a work now guiding me.

Now is the time to press in to God’s protection and guidance for our lives. It says that He cares about the one sheep that is lost. He wants to protect and guide you through this difficult time and be by your side all the time, good and bad. Let’s all open our hearts a little wider today and let God in to comfort us. Then we will be able to look back on this as a time where we walked together with God through this valley and, as a result, we grew in maturity as His followers.

Brad Dunn