Snyder, George L Snyder, Lenore Snyder, God, ethics, morals, religion
Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley
Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I fear not. For the evil in the valley is done by my hand.
And, God speaks to me:
“You are never alone for I am always with you. I never leave you alone.
Believe I am with you, for I AM.
Remember, what you do to your soul is the only thing that goes with you into eternity.
As you walk through the valley on the path of life, you pick up a rock and place it on the scale of good and evil. Look into the face of God. Try to see which side the God of Grace and Love would place His rock. Sometimes you place it on one side. Sometimes you place it on the other. The problem is: You can never take back a rock once it is set in place. Only God takes away those rocks. I only hope that most of my rocks are on the correct side. I know sometimes I place a rock on the wrong side. Sometimes those rocks are much heavier than the ones I put on the correct side. Sometimes I have to carry many rocks to compensate, but they can never balance out the wrong one. If God is with me, how can I put that rock on the wrong side? How can I cause pain to that person? How can I say that unkind word? How can I not love that other person, the one whom God loves? It is easier if you really believe that God is there. God is in that person. Are you willing to admit that your faith is not strong enough to see God in that other person? Is this a copout? I do not wish to believe I am inherently evil. God wants me to be good. As a reward for being or doing right, God makes me better. And, when I do wrong, - - -.
If your faith is strong, you see God in each person you meet, you always reach out and touch God, you feel God’s hand on your shoulder, - - - -. If your faith is weak, then you cannot see God in that other person. You cannot reach out and touch God. You cannot feel the presence of God. If your faith is weak, then there is nothing to stop you from stacking rock after rock on the wrong side of the scale. If you truly believe in God, then you cannot do wrong by any person. You cannot do wrong by any thing. Then you are inherently good. Always remember, God is not remote. God is always right there.
If you stack too many rocks into the wrong pile, it begins to seem right to you. Can you ever justify your actions or inactions?
We design our machines to protect the one operating them. There are safety shields, there are interlocks, there are sensors, there are seat belts and air bags. These and many other things are designed to protect the human users. Should we not require a higher standard from ourselves than we do from our machines?
Even if you are not Christian, the requirement Jesus put on his followers to love each person, no matter how great or small, even your enemy, makes sense. Of course, Jesus was not the first to follow this concept. The Buddha lived this rule. Confucius lived this rule. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle lived this rule. They were not Christians. Nor was Jesus the last to follow this concept. Marcus Aurileus lived this rule. Ahmad ben Ahmad lived this rule. Mohandas Gandhi lived this rule. I could fill page after page with names of those who did not identify themselves as Christian who lived this rule. Then there were many Christians who also lived this rule. People like Mother Teresa, and even foul mouthed, alcoholic, womanizers like Oskar Schindler, lived this rule. Use the internet, encyclopedia, or other sources. Find out what these people said. Find out what these people did in their lives. Jesus was not the only one trying to correct human behavior. Even if you are an atheist, you can see the value of love, respect, and honor.
There are many who claim to be Christian who do not follow the rule of love. Sometimes I am one of them. Are you one of them? Did you notice that I put the word claim in the description? The only ones that Jesus is reported to have condemned are those who do not live the faith they claim.
Look at your behavior. Do you ever say something degrading about someone after they have left your presence? If they cannot hear your remark, does it not count? An example is someone who is dirty, smelly, or mentally erratic. Is the rock smaller if your victim cannot hear your comment? Perhaps if they cannot hear you it does not count. Is that another way to avoid responsibility for your actions? I believe that avoidance puts another rock on the wrong pile. Does it make you better when you make that comment? Does it make you worse when you make that comment? Can you not see God in that person? Does God hear you?
I used the words your victim in the previous paragraph. I bet you did not find that an insult. You should have considered it an insult. I accused you of victimizing another. I bet that is because you found those words appropriate there. If I had replaced “your victim” with “the one you love” it would not have made sense.
When standing before God, which will fare you better: to be the victim of injustice, or the cause of injustice.
Can you not see God standing right beside you, watching your every act, listening to your every word?
• Always avoid lies, slander, obscenity, cursing, and making degrading remarks about others.
• Avoid even thinking these things.
• Keep yourself free from all the seven deadly sins: envy, sloth, gluttony, anger, pride, lust, greed.
• Harm no one. Harm no other creature. Harm nothing.
• Do what you can to protect the world. Protect nature. Protect the environment.
• Actively help those around you.
• Always be kind. Try nice first. Try nice before you get angry.
• Forgive. That person is made in the image of God. Listen to what they have to say.
• Have empathy. Exercise compassion. Love.
• Perform that random act of kindness.
Marcus Aurileus said that whatever you do or do not do makes you either better or worse. Do your actions make you better? If not then, they make you worse. Would you have said what you said if you could see God standing right there watching you? Would your actions have differed if you could see, touch, hear, even smell God? Would your actions have been different if you could see God in that person?
Madeline LeEngle would walk through the streets of New York, stop, and say, “The next person I see is Jesus.” Sometimes that was very difficult. I did not see Jesus in that leper I saw in India. Now that I look back, now I see Jesus. It is a little late now.
So, the next time you walk through the valley of life and pick up a rock, be judgmental of yourself. Into which pile will you place your rock? Better yet, look for the face of God in the person you confront. We are all guilty of placing a few rocks on the wrong side. You can never remove them. You can try to balance them with the rocks you place on the correct side, but that never seems enough. Look at the stacks of rocks. You may find yourself trying to justify where you placed some of the rocks, but every attempt to justify only adds more to the wrong side. Every time you walk through the valley of life with a rock in your hand, you have a choice. The problem is what can you do when you have an evil rock in your hand? Is there any way to turn it into a good one? If you cannot turn that rock of hate into a rock of love, then put it down. Turn your back on it. Avoid it. Walk away from it.
Walk through that valley. Carry your rocks. Be careful. It seems the rock should go on one side and not the other. Make sure it goes on the correct side. Turn that valley of death, that valley of evil, into a place of light, into a place of love. Honor the God of love, not the god of hate.
God is not petty. God’s grace and forgiveness take away that pile of rocks. God overlooks your failings. God forgives. God does not keep a report card on your life. It is you that becomes better or worse as a result of your actions or lack of action. God is not judgmental. I am judgmental. You are judgmental. So now I have added another rock to the wrong pile. Have you?
But, now that valley of
darkness, death, and desolation
has become a valley of
light, life, and love.
The rocks line the edges of the path.
Children play on the green grass.
Over there sit two men talking and laughing while playing checkers. A dog is sleeping at their feet. You walked with them when they were in that lonely valley.
On the other side, a young couple is feeding bread crumbs to the ducks swimming in a pond, and, a mother is showing her children that if you sit still, the squirrel will take the nuts from your hand.
You feel the elephant’s trunk caress your arm and without thinking you give him a peanut. Without thinking, for now small acts of kindness come automatically to you.
The valley has become a garden, and now you know the elephant’s trunk that you once thought was a serpent, is part of the elephant.
Only part of the elephant.
Surely goodness and mercy will flow from me all the days of my life for I dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.