When I was rewarded with a couple months of R&R at Boo Boo and Timmy’s house last year after we went to Oregon I got to hang out at the End of Year school activities with my children. Best. Vacation. Ever.
One day we went to a “Speech Meet” where my “son” proceeded to wow the crowd with his animated rendition of an old fable. I could barely contain myself bc I was so proud. But I tried not to embarrass him like how I tried to exercise restraint at H’s Spanish play the week after.
But when a classmate of his stepped up to the microphone and recited Psalm 23 with the deliberate enunciation of a good speech therapy student (I haven’t mastered that, BTW), I lost it. He was on, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me – thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. And I fought hard to swallow the tears bubbling up from my tummy.
The terrifying confusion that marked my inpatient days is long over but I still feel the echo of fear bc its sound was so deafening the first time. One night in the 2nd or 3rd Hospital (I was still too loopy to know where I was) my friend A came to see me with her little boy, M. He had drawn me a picture of a shepherd guiding his little lambs across some hills and A told him, Sing Psalm 23 for Miss Ning.
Even though I can’t remember where we were I do remember preparing myself mentally to hear the sweet strains of The Lord is My Shepherd – you know, the one from the commonly used hymnal affectionately known simply as the Red Book. But M is the son of two talented musicians and has grown up with the Praise & Worship genre as the soundtrack of his life. He has been well trained and blessed hereditarily so he unhesitatingly launched into a rousing chorus of Matt Redman’s “Never Let Go.”
I was startled at first because I had been expecting the gentle melody of the familiar old hymn, but even then my mind shifted gears rapidly and I enjoyed M’s spirited rendition of this favorite praise song.
These are the lines that lead up to the chorus:
…and I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
These were words I needed to hear desperately. But lately it’s the opening lyrics that have really captured me:
Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love
Is casting out fear…
I wrote this in July 2014:
One of the hardest things I realized before I went to Oregon was that death had been very near to me on that day. (I had largely blocked it out.) I refer to that period (when I was asleep) as “The Valley” and when I heard this verse of the song it actually made me wistful for it. The Valley was absolutely terrifying but I was able-bodied in it. I walked normally etc. and I actually began to miss it bc it was the last thing that “happened” before I woke up and found myself in this situation.
From 388. Vespers
It’s taken another 6 months but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of The Valley, and even with the idea that I actually miss it. I’ve had a hard time believing that The Land of the Living is for me and my time in the Valley is why. But I’m done skating around it. It happened. I walked through The Valley, and I learned to walk after I woke up, too. And I was never alone.
Matthew 21.16 …out of the mouths of babes…thou hast perfected praise…
Psalm 8.2 Out of the mouth of babes…hast thou ordained strength…