This is a multi part shorts series of posts. Part 1 was about the decision to become a pastor and a key book in my life. Part 2 was about discovering an ability and my health beginning to decline while at school.
Part 3 today is about The Valley of Death.
I love Psalm 23:4- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me”
The New International Versions states valley of the shadow of death as dark valley.
Either way it expresses so well what I experienced from April 1994 to July 1995. It was indeed a dark valley.
I had returned to my home city from the school where I was studying for the ministry with the thought that I was coming home to die. I also believed that Jesus led me to my new church First Free Church to pray for the church while I was dying. I would later find out the real reason for being led there.
My health progressively worsened. I could only work delivering pizzas part-time because of my health. I lived in a small apartment in the basement of a house.
In the fall of 1994, my feet swelled up and it hurt to walk. In the winter of 94/95 my hands swelled up. It was edema from being sick. I had little to no contact with the friends I had made at the church I went to before leaving for school due to changing denominations. There we no sympathetic ears to be found. It was a valley I walked through mostly alone except for Jesus and a married couple that were my friends when I first rededicated my like to Jesus.
When I would drive the delivery car for the restaurant, it only had a radio. Two songs on the radio seemed to tell my story, Streets of Philadelphia by Springsteen and I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan.
Even though Streets of Philadelphia was about dying from a different disease than my problem, the lyrics stuck with me:
One of the symptoms of what I had was memory loss. I would see people in public that I had known and they would greet me. I would say hi and move on wondering who the person was. That was why the lyrics of I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan spoke to me:
I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Even with the pain getting progressively worse, losing memory, doctors not being able to diagnose me, and being for the most part alone, there were moments in that dark valley that Jesus met me.
The song that meant the most to me was Immanuel by Michael Card. There were times I would listen to the song while praying and it would feel like I was in eternity. It was the song I listened to when I returned home one night feeling discouraged that I could not remember what kind of car I had when I finished shopping at the market and had to walk around in the rain for 20 minutes until I could remember.
It was also the song that I was listening to as I was praying one night in July 1995. My prayer was:
“Jesus if tonight you want to take me home to heaven, that is ok, but there are more people who need help and more people who need to hear about you.”
When I finished praying, I felt the presence of Jesus come into my small apartment and felt a hand on my shoulder. The pain stopped. The next day I went to the doctor……….
Thank you for reading. God Bless. I am sharing the song that meant so much to me- Immanuel by Michael Card.