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You know what ruminating means, right?
A cow, peacefully chewing its cud, chewing it over and over, getting every bit of nutrition out of the grass it's been grazing on...

Well, lotsa times when I read my Bible, there's SOOOO much going on around me - from noisy kids to noisy BRAIN - that my Bible reading is really not much more than grazing. 20 or 30 minutes of the eyes running along lines of print and, yeah, I read my Bible today!

But then...! Getting alone...getting quiet...getting to where I'm not just able to hear, but I'm listening...

And the LORD speaks. And when I have ears to hear, I start to hear what HIS Word is saying to me, speaking into me into my situation.

That's ruminating.

Sometimes, I call it marinating. 'Cause it's like taking a tough ol' cut of meat (me) and putting it into a bowl of marinade - to sit and soak - soaking up the flavor - getting tender - yeah...

The Path Through the Valley
(This is one of my favorites.)

I've known the 23rd Psalm most of my life - memorized it in Kindergarten. But last year as I was reading it to my then 2-year-old daughter, it struck me. Verse 3, which ends: "he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" is followed immediately by verse 4, which begins: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil"!

And I thought, I'm walking in the paths of righteousness, where the LORD is leading me, and suddenly I'm walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death? How did I get there?

'Cause HE led me there.

'Cause amazingly often, the best way for me to get to righteousness (standing right with GOD) is by going through a deep dark valley - dark and scary, so that the only way I can get through is to hang on to Jesus's hand for dear life.

So dark and scary that I would like to run away - and sometimes I do run away - but HE comes looking for me, and says, "When you're ready, we'll go." And back into the Valley HE leads, till I finally trust HIM enough to let HIM take me all the way through.

The next day after I had these thoughts, my then 13-year-old daughter, after a month of increasing violence and rebelliousness, boiled over entirely and tried to beat me up. I was praying the whole time she was pasting me, asking the LORD, "What do I do?" And HE kept telling me, Just drop your hands.

I did, but that's not easy - your hands want to come up on their own when a fist is about to plow into you! She beat me till my nose was bloody, laughing at her triumph.

She was arrested and taken to the state mental hospital. She was gone 11 months. And now she is home.

And she is changed. She is now a Christian - the very thing she hated a year ago. The LORD is good.

The walk through the Valley is so dark, and the way often wearyingly long. But I had the Son shining on me.

And so can you.

Posted 23 July 2003 - Sheya Joie Yonathi