A Greater King

In northwest Alabama, there is a hidden gem called Dismals Canyon. It is a bit out of the way, but worth a trip if you have never been. When you visit, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. In fact, you have because it is one of the oldest, primeval forests east of the Mississippi. The waterfalls, natural bridges, diverse plant life, and sandstone-sheltered grottos all point to the glory of benevolent Creator.

If you were to descend into the canyon at night, trepidation might fill your soul. It is rocky, wild, and you are enclosed by towering cliffs and trees. The imagery King David uses in Psalm 23 regarding the valley of the shadow of death might come to mind. It seems to be a dark and foreboding place where the terrain might easily swallow you. This would be true if not for one, surprising thing – the presence of the North American Orfelia fultoni. Commonly referred to as Dismalites, this species of insect produces a bright blue-green light. In the darkest of places, their amazing God-given ability shines forth.

In one of the most well-known passages of Scripture, David tells Israel their God will shepherd them. The Lord will guide, protect, and ultimately bless them. This psalm of trust does not insinuate this life will be devoid of evil, calamity, nor oppression. The heinous nature of the Fall will reverberate until the Kingdom of God makes every crooked path straight. The journey which leads us to a banquet table of victory will be filled with dangerous treading and rough waters.

David understood there would come a day when a greater King and Shepherd would arrive. At that time, his rod would defeat our adversary. His staff would point the way. Jesus is the light that has come into the world helping God’s people see the Father’s glory and the surety of His love. He experienced the pitch blackness of the tomb so we could see the resurrection sunrise. As we navigate the dark valley (and we surely will), the ministry of his Spirit, which brings us peace, will lead us safely home.