YODER: Bumps in the road make us appreciate the good | Faith and Values

“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Once we make that life altering decision to ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, we cannot predict what He will do with our remaining days on this earth. When we ask Him to lead and guide us by saying, “This is my life, but I give it back to you,” we don’t know what will happen next. Maybe that’s a good thing. It probably is.

If we knew in advance all the bumps in the road that await us. If we could look around the corners and witness the sharp turns on icy roads with falling debris that will challenge our journey, and make straight hair go curly, we may not want to go down that road at all.

I know that I wouldn’t have the courage on my own to take some of the roads I’ve been on. I’ve witnessed an amazing amount of trauma and tragedy. I’ve been on the sidelines. I’ve been in the middle of it. Being an empathic person, I feel other peoples’ tragedy as if it’s my own. I’ve also experienced tragedy myself. I’ve had many times of great joy and also times of great loss.

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People who know a little of my story tell me that they admire my strength and my faith. But the truth is, I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the Lord’s incredible loving kindness and amazing gift of forgiveness. I know that now after a lifetime of living in the Lord’s strength, not my own. I’m not strong at all, but I serve and love the One who is. That makes all the difference in this life and in the next.

Because I’ve tried life on my own, I can sincerely and honestly say that I don’t recommend it. In fact, living only for yourself is a big mistake. You’re like a ship without a rudder. A bicycle without handlebars to steer. You are a daredevil without a net as the ground gets closer at an alarming rate of speed. If you’re smart, that’s when you cry out to the Lord. Before you hit the pavement.

And yet, the bumps in the road are what make us stronger. The icy roads in the midst of the fog of life are what cause us to call out to the Lord. It’s during these times when we are walking through the claustrophobic valley of the shadow of death and evil is breathing it’s bad breath down our necks that we know the truth. Jesus the Good Shepherd is the One who leads us through the valleys.

“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” (Psalm 23:4).

It’s so personal. Psalm 23 is a psalm of David. David knows who’s with him during the valleys of life. The battle- weary old King has personally witnessed the goodness of God throughout his life. He’s sinned greatly and when he’s repented with great sorrow for his disobedience, he has received the Good Shepherd’s amazing forgiveness. He’s been restored back into the fold.

We don’t stay in the valley. We don’t lie down and give up. We don’t faint. Well, most of the time. Not if we follow Him. He takes our weak, shaky hand and gently leads us through. Sometimes He nudges us to go to the left or right, one small step at a time. It can take a day, a week, months, or years. Sometimes it takes a lifetime.

Maybe there are times in life when we can’t seem to move at all. Frozen in one spot. In one situation. Like a shepherd with a lost lamb who’s afraid to move, these are the times Jesus picks us up and carries us.

Maybe you’re experiencing a valley in life right now and don’t know how you’ll make it through. Perhaps you feel as if you’re at the end of the road with nowhere to go. Life seems like an insurmountable mountain. You have no hope. Call out to Jesus. He is our Good Shepherd. We can trust Him with our very lives.

I was talking with my son, Ethan, about all the times that the Lord has saved my life in this one little lifetime. I’m amazed because I’m such an ordinary person, yet the Lord has saved my life many times. The last one was, of course, almost 1 1/2 years ago when the car my husband Mel was driving was hit by a semi-truck. It was a miracle that I survived.

“That makes eight times,” I told Ethan. “Some people say it’s good I’m not a cat.” I laughed a little.

Then Ethan said, “No, Mom. It’s nine times.”

“Yeah, when you give your life to the Lord.”

Of course, he’s right. That’s the most important life-saving moment of my life. Now I know without a doubt that when I walk through the final valley of the shadow of death, Jesus the Good Shepherd will lead me through to a new life with Him for eternity.

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Amen.

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at Kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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