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What To Do When Walking Through The Valley In The Shadow Of Death

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Two weeks ago I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ and reaffirmed my commitment to St. Paul AME Church. I did so because of three reasons from my life’s experience of 68 years, which is explained in the statement I had my wife read for me. The statement:

It was sixty years ago around this time of the year that I was playing in the woods and stepped on a rusty nail. I did not tell my parents until it began to hurt several days later. I did not have a tetanus shot that would have prevented me from getting sick. Needless to say poison set in my entire body and on Easter Sunday my jaws locked up and would not open. I was in the hospital for over a month and at one point I died and my mother prayed this prayer as the doctor worked on me. “Lord let thy will be done on my child”. Mom later told me this is what she did outside of my hospital room. The Lord knew her desire but she relinquished her will or desire so his will could be done with my life. In 1st John 5:14 it states: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.” My mother was willing to accept His will whatever that would be and God responded to start my heart back to beating. Sixty years later after my many conversations, I once again find myself with limited speech. However, that has not stopped me from communicating with the world thanks to computers.

2nd In keeping with a practice of having to re-issue an Affirmative Action Policy each and every year at Kaiser Permanente for the sole purpose to recommit the organization to improve Equal Opportunity for every employee in measurable quantities; Likewise on this 60th anniversary of my lock jaw experience, I would like to reaffirm my faith to Jesus Christ and rededicate my commitment to improve my physical efforts to St. Paul. I will do so by increasing my attendance at church services, attend vacation bible school, Sunday school and see if Cheryl can find extra funds for the church.

3rd I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve God for many years as a teacher of His word in Sunday school, as a singer in the choir, and in leadership positions on various boards and look forward to doing it again one day. But until then I will do what I can do with the physical limitations placed on me at this time.

So thank you and the St. Paul Family and continue to keep me and my family in your prayers.

Now nothing is wrong or my health has not changed so do not get alarmed but I felt as though this needed to be done. I am reminded of the twenty third Psalms verse “walking through the valley of the shadow of death”.

When I was teaching or reciting the 23rd Psalms during church it meant one thing, or during my employment at Kaiser it meant something else. Since my physical ailment with ALS/PLS or Lou Gehrig’s disease it has taken on a totally different meaning. This line is followed by “I will fear no evil”.

I remember going to a support group meeting for the first and only time after I was told I had ALS. I listened to the people talk about their situation and who was missing from the last meeting. I said to myself this is not for me I still have some living to do, so ever since then I have been living while “walking in the valley under the shadow of death” like I was before the diagnosis. I remembered Jesus telling his disciples “don’t worry about when the end of the world will come because only the Father knows that answer”, so I keep on walking.

Then as my ability to speak clearly is impaired, I am reminded of what is written in Romans 8:26 that the “Spirit himself intercedes for us (me) with groans that words cannot express”, so I keep on walking and groaning. I am better off not speaking since I do not have words to say what is happening or how happy I am.

I decided to write this editorial because my wife came home this Saturday and told me the news of two of our friends that heard the news their cancer had returned. I want them and others to know that I am praying for them to keep on walking and doing well because God is not through with them yet. And as long as the sun keeps shining you will see the shadow so don’t worry, keep on walking. Don’t get frightened if you don’t see the shadow, it only means the sun is directly over head so keep on walking, you will see the shadow again.

Another thing to remember is the shadow of death is nothing more than a SHADOW it cannot hurt you unless you are one of those people who are afraid of their own shadow.

Since the shadow was put over me, I have written over 400 editorials, saw the first African American sworn in as president, founded a statewide news media organization, interfaced with two governors, campaigned and helped elect California’s first African American and female Attorney General, organized several summits in Sacramento, help raise thousands of dollars for charity and most of all continue to guide the family. I even gave my daughter away in marriage while escorting her down the aisle in my power chair.

What am I saying when you get news that you did not wish for or knocked you down. Get up dust yourself off and keep on walking even though the shadow is following you. But like the 23rd Psalms concludes with “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I have goodness and mercy walking with me in the valley as well and their shadow is bigger.

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+2 # Guest 2011-04-14 17:18
It seems everywhere I turn someone is quoting this verse. Thank you for the encouragement.

If anyone is interested, here are some of my songs and thoughts as I try to focus on praise in the midst of depression:

+2 # Guest 2011-04-14 09:00
Lin, I just finished reading your artical, with tears in my eyes. the 23rd Psalms is what guides me now. There was atime that when I was lifted out of the "Valley" I beat on my chest, saying look what I was able to accomplished, I once said Prayers to God when I was hurting by saying" God Help me, if you will get me out of the mess I will never do it again. He delivered and I did it again. He has been my rock even when I was in the valley ,and now ieven when I hurt, My body and soul is beside still waters. I remember the Lock Jaw, and Yes GOD is verry God. I am gald I found your work
+2 # Guest 2011-04-14 06:17
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Enough said. Thank you for being a strong warrior for Christ, your family, and the world.

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