Moses took the rod of God in his hand (Exodus 4:20, NKJV).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4, NKJV).

            I recently had the opportunity to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” with a neighbor named Dave. Dave had never professed a belief in Christ or even acknowledged God at all, except to use His name as a curse word. Apart from that, he was a nice man and an enjoyable neighbor, as well as a law-abiding citizen. When he became extremely ill and the doctor said he would not be leaving the hospital alive, some of his family members who knew I was a licensed minister contacted me and asked me to come and see him.

My husband and I went immediately, and it was obvious the moment we saw him that he was in his last hours of life. Hooked up to tubes and needles and machines, he seemed to be in a coma, though the doctor said he was nearly certain Dave could hear us. I began to talk with him about the only thing that really matters in life, and that’s a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His eyes fluttered open, and he gave me a brief smile of recognition. I could tell from his eyes that he was listening. We had a short but meaningful conversation about his need to receive Jesus as his Savior, then we prayed together. I saw a peace wash over Dave’s face as his body relaxed. When I asked him if he understood what had happened and knew Jesus stood ready to walk him through the valley of the shadow of death, he nodded and whispered, “Yes.” A few hours later, he completed his journey through that valley and into the Father’s arms.

Some of his family members and friends came up to me afterward and said things like, “I know Dave is at peace now” or “I believe Dave is in heaven now.” Their reason for believing this? All declared the same thing: “Dave was a good man.”

Sad. Yet how many believe that same lie, that any of us could possibly make it to heaven based on our own “goodness”? Jesus was quite clear when He said, “No one is good but One, that is, God (Matthew 19:17).

Moses came to understand this crucial truth. A former shepherd who was used to carrying his own rod and staff as he protected the sheep in his care, Moses dared not go into Pharoah’s presence depending on his feeble human strength. Instead he “took the rod of God in his hand” (Exodus 4:20) before beginning the process of leading the people of Israel out of slavery.

King David knew this truth as well. Also a former shepherd, the Psalmist declared, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He knew, particularly as he so often faced the threat of death from those who hated and persecuted him, that only God’s road and staff could lead him safely home.

Dave is safely home now, not because he trusted in his own rod or staff of frail human goodness, but rather because he finally put his trust in the perfect goodness of God’s rod and staff. At that point he received comfort and assurance that he no longer needed to fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death, for his newfound Savior would carry him.

By |2016-12-20T19:29:56+00:00July 1st, 2014|Devotional|6 Comments


  1. Stacy Harp July 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Amen… and yes, I agree… sad. Thanks for being a woman who DOES share His word and the truth about eternity.

  2. Patti J Smith July 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this Kathi. I always feel for those who have not accepted Jesus, as they miss so much peace and joy in their lives, but at least your neighbor experienced it briefly on earth before experiencing it eternally in Heaven!

  3. Jackie Tessnair July 1, 2014 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    This is so true.Many people believe as long as they are a good person,that is all that matters.This is so not true.We must accept the Lord and allow Him into our hearts.The only way to Heaven is through Jesus.Thanks for sharing this story…

  4. Diana Montgomery July 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Praise God He used you to bring another child home. I don’t know how many people talk to think because they do good things they are ok with the Lord. So sad! Not by your works is right. Glad I know him as my personal saviour. I loved the blog.

  5. Jeanie July 1, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Praise God, another child of His made it home! Thank you for being obedient to your calling! You are right in that so many people think they are home safe because they were good people. And in my family, the excuse is “after I saw what happened to ______” or similar, basically God lets even those who love Him endure suffering. The fact that “we live in a broken world” doesn’t really reach them, even when gently stating what Jesus endured, as the Son of God – for us. I continue to pray, as many of your readers do, also. Remembering the poem, The Hound of Heaven, in recent days, and thinking of how the Holy Spirit pursued me through the labyrinthine years, shows me that if God loves me enough to have not left me alone for the years that I turned my back on Him, then He is still working in their lives. Thank you for the reminder of what we need to think of when talking to others, that being good isn’t what God requires…a broken and contrite heart, yes! Blessings to you and your family!

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