Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014 “‘Laughland’ and the Discipline of Darkness”

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:3)

Good Morning Believers!

When I was growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, one of my favorite places to visit was Hershey, Pa, and especially Hershey Park. When I was a kid, Hershey Park was what would now be considered an old-time amusement park, quite unlike the vast and somewhat expensive theme park it is today. Back in the day, admission to the park was free. Rides and attractions were individually priced…a dime here…a quarter there…fifteen cents at another. It was “pay as you go.” A kid could have a lot of fun for $2 or $3. Ah yes…those were the days. One of my favorite attractions was called “Laughland.” Laughland was basically a dark room…a maze through which you had to wend your way, never quite sure of what you may encounter in your journey through the blackness. Now as much as I liked Laughland, I never wanted to enter it alone. It was a bit unnerving to try navigating through the shroud of darkness, groping along aimlessly. There was security in knowing you were not there in the dark by yourself. In your head, you knew that there was no real danger. It was called “Laughland”, after all!

There are times when we must face real times of darkness and uncertainty which we would never call “Laughland.” In fact, such times may be more like the “shadow of death” David describes in Psalm 23. David’s comfort and assurance during such times of darkness was in the knowledge that he was not just groping in the dark by himself. He understood the omnipresence of his Lord, his Protector. I, and everyone I have ever known, have faced times of darkness. In fact, just as my parents gave me a dime and set me loose in “Laughland”, there are times God Himself  allows us to experience dark situations …obscure times of uncertainty… designed to increase our trust in Him. Why would he do such a thing? I believe it is akin to a parent allowing an infant child to attempt those first faltering steps. Falling is almost a certainty, but with it comes increasing confidence and ultimate success as the child walks towards the safety of mommy or daddy’s arms. Christian author Oswald Chambers suggests,

“At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him.”

Initially, being in theshadow of God’s hand”, may seem like a dark place to be. As we grow to hear Him, know Him, and trust Him, we understand it to be a safe place of peace, assurance and, yes, laughter! Other dark places need not be feared once the knowledge of God’s presence is fully realized. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;”  Let’s pray!

Holy Lord God; How good, how blessed it is to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. I fear no evil, for You are always with me, Lord. Time after time, You have proven faithful and taught me to trust in you completely. You bring blessed assurance, security, and laughter into my life with each new day. How I praise You, O Lord, for all Your blessings and benefits. Great is Your Name! Amen!

 

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