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Tales of Fantasy, Mystery and Adventure Under the Influence of Christian Homeschooling

S. A. J. Lyttek, a multiple award-winning writer, always loved writing, but didn’t arrive at the profession in the typical manner. After college and graduate school, she plunged into government consulting. In this environment, she discovered a knack for writing tests, interviews and other measurements. That soon became the focus of her career—reigniting her love for the written word. Thus captivated, she spent evenings freelancing “fun” writing including short stories, poems, articles and cards. When her eldest was a toddler, she quit full-time work to stay home and write. Eager to spend more time with her children, homeschooling intrigued her. From preschool through high school, she homeschooled both sons while continuing to freelance. An integral part of the homeschooling community, she has developed and taught writing classes to a generation of homeschoolers. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Gary, Mrs. Lyttek loves to share her commitment to homeschoolers and her fascination with the written word.

When God Gets Personal

10/13/2021 8:08:00 AM BY Susan Lyttek

Yea, 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.

“Même si je passe par la vallée obscure, je ne redoute aucun mal, Seigneur, car tu m’accompagnes. Tu me conduis, tu me défends, voila ce qui me rassure.”

In verse four, the tone changes.

It doesn’t matter the language. It goes from third person, looking at the Lord, the Savior, to second person, talking to him directly. When things get intense, the Psalm gets personal.

And isn’t that how we are? We might be philosophical about God while things are good or even okay. We might talk about our faith with others matter-of-factly when life goes how we expect it to. We believe and we love him and we pray, but it can be a bit distant.

Then something goes wrong. Life falls apart and we cling to God desperately. Please, Lord, I need You! He’s no longer a distant God (not that he ever was, just our perception), but the precious Savior who can rescue us.

In English, the crisis is called the valley of the shadow of death.

Whether death is imminent or just seems so, David knew that the Lord would conquer it. On this side of the cross, it’s a done deal. The grave’s victory has been overcome and death is no longer victorious for the Christian. He didn’t fear because God was more powerful than anything that could frighten him.

In the French, it’s a dark valley. But not just nighttime dark. More like cave dark or country dark. But again, fear is not necessary because God is holding your hand and knows the way.

For the next part of the verse, the English makes no sense for a suburban girl. (I know if I knew more about shepherding, it would, but I don’t.) Both the rod and staff sound violent. But the French explains how they are used. “You will lead/drive me, you will defend me…” The staff, the thing with a crook at the end of it, guides the sheep and encourages them to go in the right direction. The rod, a thick stick, is used to defend them from whatever might want to devour them.

Comfort comes because the sheep knows the staff will pull him away from a cliff. Comfort comes because the sheep knows that the rod will kill potential attackers.

David himself had killed lions and bears to protect his sheep. He was confident that the Lord was a much better shepherd than he was.

Jesus himself said that as the Good Shepherd or the God Shepherd, he would lay down his life for the sheep. He planned to protect us and guarantee our safe passage with everything that he had.

So who are the lions and bears that are coming our way?

The prophet Daniel did not fear when surrounded by lions because he knew who had given them life. He also knew that the animals were not “true lions”. Those were the jealous men who had arranged for his arrest.

Peter said in his letter that the devil prowled like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. And in the first gospel in Genesis, it says that the son will strike the head of the serpent—a death blow using the rod.

That got me thinking about Pilgrim’s Progress. The lions in it sounded terrifying. They roared and scratched the ground and sounded so close. Surely, they were ready to devour the tired pilgrim.

But no.

Fear not the lions, for they are chained.

Most of them are. The ones that aren’t, our Shepherd’s rod will take care of.

Be comforted and keep walking.