"He leads me in paths of righteousness (the right paths) for his name's sake." If I will let Him, He will LEAD me in the right path. He will show me the way to go. And, He does it for the sake of His Name--to show that He is Who He says He is.
We, as the sheep that we are, need God to be more than merely present in our valleys of darkness. We necessarily need Him to use His rod AND His staff--the rod to remind us of His power and authority so that we might trust Him, and His staff to guide us, to protect us, to pick us up out of dangerous places, to put us back with other sheep, and to draw us nearer to Himself.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
"Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. " Micah 7:8 NIV
In the midst of writing this blog entry six weeks ago, we were rocked by the news that a dear friend of our family had taken his own life. We are still mourning his death and aching for his grieving family members. He had to have been in a "valley of deep darkness" at the time. His passing stilled my hand from publishing this blog post until today. I pray that the 23rd Psalm will be a comfort for his friends and family who remain.