I’m preparing for a vacation trip across the country. I have to fly and I don’t like flying. As a child, my father flew small planes and after we moved to Virginia, our family would make the trek back home to Mississippi and Alabama several times a year. I hated those hours of flying. When I moved to Savannah a few years back for a short while, I flew home several times; I hated flying then, too. Each time the plane took off I would pray for the pilot and co-pilot, asking that they use wisdom in their decisions and thank God that my life was in His hands, not those of the pilot’s.
So as I begin to mentally prepare for the journey, it’s natural for me to think about dying. I make sure my will is up-to-date, my burial plans, and what will happen to my fur-babies. I want to make sure ‘all my ducks are in a row’, so God if/when calls me home, then my family will not have to make any hard decisions.
But for all the planning for death, do we think about happens when we actually cross over the threshold? When we must take that first step into the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23.4)? If you’re like me – I don’t think about it. I don’t want to think about it. It’s a scary thing to ponder what happens after your last breath. It’s scary because although everyone goes there, no one ever comes back to tell us what happened. I know that some people have near-death experiences and I’m not discounting what they’ve seen; but for those who have died, the ones who have walked into the valley and have not returned, what happens to them?
A lot of people don’t like the unknown. The unknown is not an adventure. It’s like approaching an amusement park haunted house, not knowing how badly you’ll be scared and being scared at the prospect of being scared. So we do our best to avoid the subject altogether. Sure, I’ll plan my funeral, make sure my family is cared for, make the appropriate medical choices, or maybe none of the above. But I won’t think about the valley. I’ll avoid the valley like the plague. It’s just too daggone scary.
But God doesn’t want us to be scared – He tells us, by way of Psalm 23, that even though we all go into the valley, we don’t stay there. Not only do we walk through death, but He leads us through to the other side. “…for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
We are not in this thing alone. It may feel like it, after all, we do take that first step, however unwillingly, alone. But God assures us that before our foot has even touched the floor of the valley, He is there to welcome us and lead us to our eternal home with Him.
There is no tangible proof for this; those who have gone before us have not returned to reassure us. None but One and He has promised to be there. The only ‘proof’ I have is my faith.
By faith I trust God. By faith I don’t walk alone. By faith I’ll take that first step into the valley when it is time for me to do so and not an nano-milli-second before God calls me home.
By faith I trust God.