Do more beloved words exist? Framed and hung in hospital halls, scratched on prison walls, quoted by the young, and whispered by the dying. In these lines sailors have found a harbor, the frightened have found a father, and strugglers have found a friend.
And because the passage is so deeply loved, it is widely known. Can you find ears on which these words have never fallen? Set to music in a hundred songs, translated into a thousand tongues, domiciled in a million hearts.
One of those hearts might be yours. What kinship do you feel with these words? Where do the verses transport you? To a fireside? Bedside? Graveside?
Hardly a week passes that I don’t turn to them. This passage is to the minister what balm is to the physician. I recently applied them to the heart of a dear friend. Summoned to his house with the words “The doctors aren’t giving him more than a few days,” I looked at him and understood. Face pale. Lips stretched and parched. Skin draping between bones like old umbrella cloth between spokes. The cancer had taken so much: his appetite, his strength, his days. But the cancer hadn’t touched his faith. Pulling a chair to his bed and squeezing his hand, I whispered, “Bill, ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’” He rolled his head toward me as if to welcome the words.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
Reaching the fourth verse, fearful that he might not hear, I leaned forward until I was a couple of inches from his ear and said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
He didn’t open his eyes, but he arched his brows. He didn’t speak, but his thin fingers curled around mine, and I wondered if the Lord was helping him set down some luggage, the fear of dying.
Do you have some luggage of your own? Do you think God might use David’s psalm to lighten your load? Traveling light means trusting God with the burdens you were never intended to bear.
Max Lucado, Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2001), 7–8.
This article excerpted from Traveling Light.
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