In my head, Christianity is this nice, cushy place where you chill with the Lord Jesus, safe from all life’s randomness. Brokeness, brokenness, debt, indecision, loss, waves, crazy storms that toss you, lift you and carry you off and when they finally set you down (as you breathe a sigh of relief), you realise you’ve been dropped in a den of lions. That have been fasting. That stuff, those things, in my head, are for those who don’t know our Lord. That was one of my expectations getting into this.

Come with your poverty, Lord Jesus will make you rich. Come. Just come. Yes, you there at your computer, writing code. Come. The message of striking a gold mine, of all problems going away, sounds pretty attractive. On Sunday though, the message we received had this as the take-out:

The life of the godly is not a straight line to glory, but God sees that they get there.

Wait? What? *murmurs in my head*

The message re-affirms what I’ve been learning on this walk. It isn’t a straight line. *face drops.* Now that I’m here, what do I do with all these expectations? What do I do with this list of things I’d come with for Lord Jesus to give me?

One of the most widely known passage from the Bible was written by giant-slaying David. Psalms 23.

The Lord is my Shepherd,

I shall not want

That’s it David. That’s exactly what I want – not to want. Hence my list….

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

All on my list. Still waters, peace, calm. If those still waters are in Hawaii, or Brazil, or Seychelles, I’m totally in for that too. You, David, are a man who knows my list. Lying down in green pastures, especially in a lush field, with some mellow music playing, a lovely breeze blowing and my wife next to me, I’m sold. Lord Jesus, I’m in.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

Wait, what?! There must be a mistake here. Lord, if you truly are my Shepherd (as I confidently pronounced, remember), why is there even a remote possibility of me walking through the valley of the shadow of death? If I need to go to a valley, take me to Silicon Valley, that’s what good shepherds do no?

But David continues, unfazed…

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

And that’s what I’m learning. In Jesus’s words:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”                                                                                                     Matthew 7:24-27

I’m learning exactly that; that with or without Jesus, storms come, so do the valleys (of the shadow of death and of Silicon, I’m still waiting Lord!). I’m learning though to recognize God’s rod and staff in the storms. A rod, from what I know, is for discipline (spare the rod, spoil the child). Staffs are for guidance (Shepherds use them to herd). I’m learning, rather slowly, to look for his comfort, his grounding through everything.

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