The Way Out

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Growing up as a music minister’s son in the ’70’s, five-year-old Martin often heard his parents rehearsing tunes for upcoming worship services. 


Martin was a boy’s boy with interests in climbing, wrestling and general high-octane activity. So, it was no surprise that the tempo which appealed to him pulsated with rhythm and beat. 


One of his favorites was “Victory in Jesus” and he belted it out often whenever the opportunity arose.


In typical preschool fashion, however, some of the words didn’t always make sense. 


One particular phrase “plunged me to victory” was one of those.


So he translated it with simple inaccuracy:


“He loved me
Ere i knew him
And all my love
Is due him
He punched me to victory
Beneath the
Cleansing flood”


Sometimes, we too feel like Jesus is determined to punch us to victory. Even as adults, we have this preschool view of our Shepherd.


When we read about His rod and staff, we quickly assume that they were designed to give us the regular beating that we deserve.(Psalm 23:4) 


How could that possibly be comforting?


The rod is a slender, carved piece of wood. Sometimes called a shepherd’s crook, it is used for numbering the sheep as they pass underneath it each night, going into the sheepfold. 


The shepherd also uses his staff to guide his sheep. Whenever, they get too close to the edge of a precipice or lag away from his immediate protection, the shepherd uses his rod to nudge them back to himself


“Your rod and your staff – they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).


Literally, this English word “comfort” means “to put forth help” in the Hebrew. It is used in a verb form that is intensive, intentional and on-going


Look at your own interaction with children. You try to help them, but their response is often anything but appreciative.


Making them eat their vegetables, do their homework and get enough rest. 


Our actions, which are deliberately planned for their good, aren’t interpreted as such. 


It’s easy to see their ungratefulness. And yet, do we see our own? How often we also resist our Shepherd’s nudge in the same way our children oppose ours. 


Oh that we could remember His purpose is not to make us miserable, but to pathway He uses to get us out of the valley of shadow and seated at the banquet. 


How much time we waste fighting the very action that moves us closer to the place we want to be. 


We were brought into the valley to see Him face to face. (And haven’t you been praying to see Him?)


Yet, once in the valley, the whole idea becomes quite questionable, huh?


Instead of withstanding His purpose, let’s turn our energy away from resisting and into submitting. After all, that is the pathway to get back into Light.


Try this. Every time you see a child resisting authority, use their defiance to remind you to look for your own. 


Then, thank Him for His rod of guidance and care to direct you out of the valley. 


“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you…


“He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 


“Although the Lord has give you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher


“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:18-21)


What does the rod look like in your life?