I Will Not Fear

I don’t think our situation with Olivia is as unique as it seems. We have a little girl who is terminal. At first we were completely crippled by the news that she would probably die during her birth. When she survived birth and then her first week and second week and fourth week, we were crippled by the fact that she would die any day. The extreme rays of beauty that seemingly and surprisingly emitted from her now and again temporarily distracted us from the hell we were living in, just enough to confuse us. “Wait - she’s so beautiful. Why is she beautiful? This is supposed to be a disaster. What is this LIFE coming from her? Is she giving US life??” Just for a second, then back to the crippling fear of the knowledge we held. After week eight we decided it was time to try to live some semblance of a regular life - we started leaving the house a bit, went on a few dates, tried to enjoy the present day since that’s all we really knew we had. We’re in this stage now, on week seventeen. Still mostly crippled by fear, but fighting against it and giving everything we have to live in spite of it. We’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Without minimizing our situation, I think it’s worth asking, how is this any different than what all of us are doing every day? Before Olivia I worried that my other three kids would die. I worried every time I went to play a gig that the van would crash and I’d leave my kids fatherless. I worried I wouldn’t make enough money and we’d go homeless and my whole family would starve and die. Usually I coped by finding things I could control and hanging out there and dragging my feet on the things that mattered. It crippled me. We’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death. THIS. This is what that verse means. It’s not for later when you’re about to die. Today, every day, every one of us is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. It follows us. We all know it’s there. Most of us ignore it, hide from it, avoid it - which cripples us. We’re all walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We all know it’s there. But every now and again we’re hit with a ray of beauty. “Wait, why is this beautiful? How is there life here??” THIS. THIS is the gospel! This is what Jesus taught, and what he was. Not some hell-pass for later, but a ray of beauty in the middle of the shadow of death. The light has shined in the darkness. Olivia is powerful to us because of this. She’s a ray of beauty in the darkness. She is to us the same beacon that Jesus was to us. Hope. Not from the fire of some afterlife hell none of us really understand, but hope for us for today. That WHILE we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear it. In not fearing it, we become like Olivia, and like Jesus - a beacon of hope - an unexpected ray of beauty in the middle of the shadow of death every one of us is walking through. Then someone else is surprised by its beauty, just long enough to confuse fear and loosen its hold again. Then, life. Olivia is unique - there’s no one like her. But I don’t think our situation is unique. We’re all walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We all have the same impossible choice to make if we want to live. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear.”


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