I couldn’t help but laugh at a clever cartoon, which depicted a very nervous chicken walking in front of a Kentucky Fried Restaurant.  The caption read, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Psalm 23:4 captures my attention every time I read this beloved Psalm.  As a hospice chaplain, I quote this verse often when dealing with those close to death.  

Shadows have always intrigued me.  When the electricity went out, my siblings and I created shadow animals in the glow of candlelight.  My brothers and I would also shadowbox.  No matter how hard I punched my shadow, I never knocked him out! 

While walking home toward dusk, large maple trees cast shadows on the road and I imagined them to be aliens from another world.  My feet could not get me home fast enough!

And perhaps you remember the late 1960’s afternoon television soap entitled “Dark Shadows, which featured a vampire named Barnabas Collins.  The Collins family lived in Collinsport, Maine, and the show depicted the lives, loves and tribulations of this family, which dabbled in supernatural phenomenon.  This scary, neck-biting drama aired every weekday right after we got home from school.  The name depicted the dark shadows of life in Collinsport.

Did you ever lie in a dark bedroom, convinced that the boogeyman was standing by the closet door?  Minimal light from a full moon cast a shadow and made a coat hanging on the edge of the door appear to be a “monster.” Such fear was intense.  Thank God, as long as my head was buried under the blanket, I was protected from this shadowy illusion!

Ashtabula County is home for 19 covered bridges.  These historic reminders of travel in simpler days feature hand-hewed lumber.  My wife and I enjoy the unique design of each one.  (Just a side note:  Jefferson, Ohio is host to the Annual Covered Bridge Festival in October, which draws people from across the nation.)

Not long ago, we took an afternoon drive on a beautiful sunny Sunday.  My eyes had, of course, acclimated to the bright sun when I entered a particular favorite bridge.  Suddenly, everything went dark and my eyesight was compromised.  I slowed down, unable to see my way.  Then, just as quick, we drove back out into the sunlight. 

At that moment Psalm 23:4 took on new meaning.  Driving through a covered bridge provided a sermon illustration!  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Death is a shadow.  It cannot harm the believer in Christ.  When the entrance to that covered bridge yielded darkness, shadows unnerved us until our eyes refocused in the sunlight.  Likewise, the shadow of death cannot hurt us.  Temporary darkness gives way to permanent light – for all eternity!  The light is Jesus!  He will guide us safely over, past the shadow of death, into eternal light! 
During a sunny day in Ashtabula County, plan a covered bridge itinerary and experience for yourself the truth of Psalm 23:4.  Each bridge will provide a wonderful illustration of this principle.

And how wonderful to know when our time comes, the Lord will be with us!  He will guide us beyond the shadow of death into His glorious presence!



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