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The Bad Side of Town

You hear laughing from the backseat and it’s infectious. You’re driving along, lost in the moment and enjoying the company when suddenly you realize, you don’t recognize your surroundings.

Gleaming storefronts have given way to run down warehouses and the people you see look rougher and decidedly unfriendly. After a few minutes, it seems as if the sun itself has grown darker and you know in the pit of your stomach that you’ve gone beyond what they call “the wrong side of the tracks.”

You begin to panic.

“How did I get here? Where do I go? I was just fine a few minutes ago and now this?! I don’t understand.”

You reason that someone–maybe aliens–have transported you here without your knowledge until you calm down and retrace your steps. It is then that you realize with a shiver running down your spine that you didn’t make a turn and no one transported you…

You’re on the same road.

I realize this is not exactly a great twist ending to a novel or a movie, but that’s kind of the point. We can sometimes get overly dramatic about our lives and situations, but God is always faithful. I love the richness of Psalm 23 and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been captivated with a thought.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. –Psalm 23:2-4

We like the still waters and green pastures. We love that He guides in paths of righteousness, but when we get to the valley of the shadow of death, we think we’ve messed up or someone tricked us or God abandoned us.

That path through the dark valley is the path of righteousness when He is there. Just as David declared, you can say too, “I fear no evil.”

Peace is not determined by circumstances and how things look all around us. Peace is determined by our proximity to our Shepherd. The same joy you experienced in the light, you have access to in the darker places.

I’m hoping you’ll be encouraged as I am. The hard places and difficulties–the bad part of town– do not mean He left. The same road that brought you into will lead you out as you trust Him. Don’t turn back or be disheartened. Go on in the strength and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you say?

 

12 Comments

  1. I always love the image of the Great Shepherd leading me and knowing that nothing can come my way that He doesn’t have the ability to protect me from as long as I continually trust and keep my eyes on Him.
    Philip recently posted..At the MoviesMy Profile

    • It’s a beautiful thing! Thanks Philip.

  2. In my 24 and 3/4 years in life I have lived in the good side of town and the bad side. I have seen people commit suicide and also seen people shot at and I was mugged once. But where every I go I know The Lord will guide me and protect me.

    • Peace comes from being with Him, no matter how bad it is around us. What you describe is bad and happens all over, but He loves and guides as we follow. Amen. Thanks Andrew.

  3. I say “Amen”! I like to use a similar analogy often, God doesn’t allow us to go around the trouble or the “valley of the shadow of death”, He sends us smack through the middle of it. His strength and glory are shown for the whole world to see when we travel through the valleys. If His hand controls all things, “Whom shall I fear”?

    • If God be for us, who can be against us. And I am so glad that He gives us the assurance that He leads us through the valley. We were never meant to stay there. Thanks Floyd!

  4. Knowning that the Father is with us on the journey, through any bad side of town, is extremely comforting. Good spin on this thought Jason, thanks for sharing!
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..Unbelief – Guest PostMy Profile

    • Thank you, Jay. Yeah, I am so glad He’s with me and that same rod and staff that brings correction also keeps away anything that would want to harm. He never slumbers nor sleeps!

  5. That’s a great illustration and reminder Jason! We need to trust the Good Shepherd to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..Jesus, Friend of SinnersMy Profile

    • Thank you, Kevin!

  6. It is the same road, and it is in the journey down it that we learn to lean and trust upon Him. They may get dark and troublesome, we may have to fight our way through them, but He is there every step of the way.
    Dusty Rayburn recently posted..Our Life’s Proof and The Attitude of Our FaithMy Profile

    • And that truth makes everything right. Thank you, Dusty.