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The Shadow of Death

Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth.  Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you.  Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights.  However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered.  24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals.  As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David.  Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter.  The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth.  Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed.  Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain.  A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”

One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader.  Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy.  According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other.  Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life.  If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for a Place of Rest

During a majority of 2012, I spent most of my free time filling out job applications, combing the internet for new opportunities and stressing over the reduced income my wife and I were bringing home monthly.  Although I am usually laid back when it comes to finances, I forced myself to forgo the luxuries of life until I obtained a new full time position.  Since I am still waiting, my search for a place of rest continues in 2013, draining my energy like heat and humidity on a warm summer day.

5 days ago

At an oasis, a morning meeting at Dunkin Donuts, my good friend Spencer shared a story which led me in the right direction.  Last Sunday, Ray Lewis, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, played his final home game, announcing his retirement at the end of this NFL season.  Following the Ravens 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, cameras surrounded Ray, recording his final moments on the field at M&T Bank Stadium.  When Ray took off his Ravens jersey, he was wearing a Black T-Shirt with a passage of the Bible, Psalm 91.  Aware of this chapter, I couldn’t wait to refresh my memory of the truth inside on my way home.

Psalm 91:1 states He who dwells in  the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  As I was trying to find rest, I was looking in all the wrong places.  I searched for satisfaction through employment.  I dedicated 2 months, sacrificing time away from my family to earn as much money as possible to try to get caught up on bills.  Yet, I was dwelling in the wrong house.  In the silence of no work, its time to find my way back toward God’s fortress.  The moment I enter this refuge for burdened and weary souls, Matthew 11:28-30, I will rest my head in peace in the shadow of the Almighty God.  There is plenty of room in this inn, retreat now while there is still time!

by Jay Mankus

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