The Darkest Valley
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The Darkest Valley

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[
a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me
.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

On December 2, 2009 my husband was diagnosed with AML, a very aggressive form of Leukemia. Over the course of the next year, I would be a caretaker for him in ways I could never have imagined. That year consisted of an everyday fight for his life. Each day we would be focused on what the treatment for that day was or what we could count as our small victory. Because of the kind of Leukemia he had, we ended up having to move out of state to a cancer hospital in Houston, Texas for a bone marrow transplant. We knew we would live there for at least four months. Our kids ranged in ages from six to seventeen so we took our entire family including my husband’s sixty-five-year-old mother and moved to a small apartment near the hospital he would be getting his treatments. He was admitted into the hospital for the first thirty days of the one hundred days of the transplant process. I spent seven days a week at the hospital. I would only make a brief visit back to the apartment on Fridays to do laundry, check school work, and make a run to the grocery store to get food for the kids and their grandmother. Then, I would pack back up, and head back to the hospital. In that four months in Houston, he spent maybe a total of 10 days outside of the hospital and in the apartment with his family due to different complications of the transplant.  I filled my days with taking care of his needs and researching treatments and medical terminology. I wanted to understand all that the doctors and nurses said, and I was also very much determined to find the cure. His body had taken many physical hits due to the intense treatments but bless him, things were about to get even harder. While in Houston, he suffered a heart attack. The doctors discovered his heart had ninety to one-hundred percent blockages on all his main arteries. The condition was so advanced the doctor did not even want him to move in fear that something might happen. This discovery came at the end of the four-month transplant process therefore, that part of the journey was complete. We had already sent the kids back to Tennessee to start school thinking we would follow shortly. My husband was insistent that he was going home to Tennessee to have open heart surgery. So, against the doctor’s advice he checked himself out of the heart hospital in Houston and he and I drove fourteen hours back to Nashville where he went straight into Vanderbilt Medical center to have heart surgery. The surgery went good and he finally got to go back home.  

In the next three months he would have a decline in health due to the cancer and ultimately find peace with the Lord on December 20, 2010. That year of fighting cancer was filled with so many ups and downs. Every day was “are we on the hill?” or “are we in the valley?” I often think, “How did I do it? How did I know what the right decisions were? How did I know how to care for him? How did I know who to call or where we would live or how would we pay our bills?” While on that hill or in that valley I did not always see how these questions were being answered. Looking back now, I know it was my shepherd. He was right there with us offering provision and love. He continued to walk through those valleys with me as I struggled with grief and loss afterwards. He used our family, friends, and most of all, his word to give me peace and comfort.  There is no other way I would have made it!

As you walk through your darkest valleys, DO NOT BE AFRAID. Remember HE is your shepherd, he will give you peace as if laying in green meadows or walking by beautiful streams. He will renew your strength. He will guide you in the right path so that you will bring honor to his name. He will protect and comfort you. He will provide for you. His blessings are overflowing. And he will constantly be pursuing you with his goodness and unfailing love.

Loving father, I praise you today for your unfailing love. I am humbled by your provision and grace. I want to lean further into you. I want to trust and not be afraid. As we walk dark valleys, I know you will be there. Help me keep my eyes on you and I know I will see your blessings. Let me be ever so close to my shepherd and be strengthened by your spirit.I thank you Lord for loving me despitemy fear and disbelief. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Amy Pearson

River Community Church
Trust Me, I've Got This.
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“Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:32

I’ve been afraid of many things over the years. When I was young there were scary things like the dark, bullies, or missing the school bus. As I got older, other factors like getting a job in time to pay my bills and driving at night in the rain came into play. And then there are spiders - I’m still working on that one. One particular fear has gripped me for years. For as long as I can remember, public speaking could strike fear into my deepest depths like nothing else. It was an uncontrollable paralyzing sense of panic that would take over my entire being when I had to get in front of a group and have all eyes on me. I would get tunnel vision where I could only see the one spot where my eyes were directly looking; everything else would go black. Then all I could hear was my voice. Not my words, mind you, just my voice. Who knows what I was saying. I’ve had to ask classmates before if I actually said words that made sense. I’m not sure how I got to the front of the group or how I made it back to my seat. The whole ordeal was traumatizing every time.

Some of you can relate. Others are great at public speaking and have no idea why I was so afraid. Either way, all of us have situations that have made us so afraid that we wanted to give up, turn back, and avoid at all cost the source of the fear. Thankfully, we are not alone. God’s chosen people He led out of Egypt got caught up in fear. Remember the Israelites when Moses sent out the 12 spies to scout out the land God had promised? When they came back with the report, only two came back believing what God said. The other ten got distracted by what they saw. They said there were giants in the land and there was no way the Israelites could defeat them. They were afraid!

What is it that makes you afraid? Pray and ask God to show you. Sometimes we don’t recognize what fear is at the root of an issue. Ask Him to reveal any fears you may have that you don’t even realize are there.  What blessing is your fear keeping you from stepping into?  Ask God to help you step into His plan. If God has told you that you can do it, then go do it! I once heard a pastor say , “Do it afraid until you aren’t afraid anymore.” I love that. God doesn’t ask you to have everything under control. He just wants you to take that first step in faith. You’ll find that as you move where God prepares the way for you, his perfect love will cast out fear.

You know what God says about fear? Don’t. Don’t fear. Don’t be afraid. It’s said that the Bible tells us this 365 times. I haven’t counted, but I know that if the Bible says it even once, we can trust it. He doesn’t just say don’t fear and then leave it all up to us. He tells us He is with us and that He will never leave us. God knows there are challenges in life. He knows there are difficult situations and circumstances, but He says, “Trust me. I’ve got this.” The enemy wants us to focus on the fears. If he can keep our eyes on what is scary and uncertain and seemingly insurmountable, he knows that our eyes won’t be on the One who protects us, watches over us, guides us, provides for us, loves us, and even puts His own life up for ours. We are His little flock and he is pleased to give us the kingdom.

—-

Amy Key works as a secretary during the week and helps her friend with catering in her free time.  She enjoys serving on the kitchen team with her daughter.  On Sundays she can usually be found serving breakfast to the wonderful volunteers here at the River.

 

River Community Church
Conquering Fear

Joshua was a man’s man! Moses’ general, and the leader of the armies of Israel, Joshua led the Israelites to conquer the Promise Land against all odds. After the many battles, Joshua was just as strong and vigorous at age 85 as he was at 40 when they entered the land (Josh 14:11). When I think of Joshua, I think of a man who had no fear. He was self-confident. He could handle anything. So why then, when God gave Joshua the challenge to take on leadership after Moses, did He tell him “be strong and courageous”? Oh, and not just once, but God reminded Joshua three times in this same challenge, “be strong and courageous”! Was it because Joshua feared that he was just not up to the task?

As a man, a husband, a father, and, yes, a grandfather, I feel that I must be the provider and protector of my family; the patriarch. I must be strong for them. Sometimes I even want to fight their battles for them. I don’t want to see them suffer or to fail. I want to protect them from accident, from injury, from sickness or disease. But how can I do this. Of course, I can’t. And, at times, when I realize that I am not up to the task; when I realize that I cannot fight their battles for them; that I cannot be there to “protect” them, it is too easy to worry and fear what might happen that I just cannot prevent. Fear can be crippling. It can rob us of the joys of family and of life.

Joshua also realized that he was inadequate for the job. He could not always defeat the enemy. He could not always protect. He reminded his people, himself, and us, “it was the Lord your God who fought for you.” (Josh 23:3) Joshua also reminded the people, “Every promise (of God) has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” (Josh 23:14) I am sure when Joshua said this that he was remembering in particular the promise which God had made to him in the beginning, “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9). Just as God made such a promise to Joshua, he makes that same promise to each of us, “and, surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Tim 1:7)

Fear is a tool that Satan uses to try to defeat us; to defeat the “power, the love, and the sound judgment” which God has given us. I must remember who fights the battles for me. I must remember that God has promised to be with me “to the very end of the age”. And I can rely on His promise because I have seen His faithfulness in the past. When I begin to fear or worry; when I feel weak and inadequate, I can remember what Paul said in 2 Cor 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” My strength comes from relying on God’s promises. It is only then that I can conquer my fear.

FEAR NOT this week - lean on God’s promises and rise up as we allow God to fight those battles in our lives that we can not win on our own.

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Dwight Suiter / An engineer and student of the Word, Dwight has been a member at the River for 9 years. He and his wife Betty have been married for 48 years. They have 3 children and 10 grandchildren.

River Community Church