Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me (Psalm 23:4, NKJV).
I’m one of those overly responsible people who takes on WAY too much and then feels guilty when I can’t do it all and/or things don’t turn out as expected. (Can anyone out there relate?) And nothing brought that truth closer to home than when my mom passed away a few months ago.
When my dad died twelve years earlier, I promised him on his deathbed that I would take care of Mom. To the best of my ability, I fulfilled that promise. However, after she died I found myself second-guessing every decision I made during her last months/weeks/days—even hours—of life. Could I have done more to make her more comfortable, prolong her life, ease her concerns, meet her needs?
The answer is that I might have—or not. I never came to a clear answer on those questions, I’m afraid, though I have been assured by many that I cared for her well and honored her end-of-life wishes, which she had clearly stated in writing. Still, my mind drifts back to those last minutes when I knew she was slipping away, and I think things like: Why didn’t I pray with her more, read her more scriptures, sing her favorite hymns, whisper more words of reassurance?
As I wrestled with those questions one day, the Lord took me straight to Psalm 23 and pointed out to me that I was trying to usurp His place. I’m the One who walks with my children through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, carrying them if need be. It isn’t your job. Leave it alone.
Since then I have come to realize how often I overstep my bounds and try to do for others what only God can do. Meeting our responsibilities is a good thing; going beyond that is a step of arrogance that says I can step into God’s shoes and do His job.
Whoa! That realization continues to stop me short when I find myself trying to “fix” people or situations. We may excuse that behavior and even consider ourselves extraordinary people for trying to achieve such results. But the bottom line is, God is the only One who saves and keeps us, who heals and carries us—even through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. May we learn to walk in humility before Him and do only what He has called and equipped us to do…in His Name.