Psalmist vs. Tennyson

From: Psalm 23

“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”

From: The Charge of The Light Brigade
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Theirs not to make reply. Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do and die. Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.”

So I guess the question of my soul is this: which is my reality? Do I trust in the comfort and guidance promised to me by my Lord? Do I trust Him to lead me THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death? Or do I see myself sent INTO the valley of death? Do I see myself in the position to engage the Lord in conversation about my life? Or do I see myself as ordered forward with no recourse but to follow blindly, unquestioning into seeming oblivion?

The Light Brigade followed their orders boldly and bravely, unquestioning despite a grievous error in their commander’s judgment. It seems he misinterpreted the orders given to him. As a result, two-thirds of the soldiers under his command were slaughtered by the Russian guns around them. I’m not real keen on those odds.

In sharp contrast, Jesus, in His prayer for his disciples, says “As long as I was with them, I guarded them with Your name which You gave me. I kept careful watch and not one of them was lost, none but him who was destined to be lost – in fulfillment of the Scripture.” (John 17:12) In addition to that, Jesus dwells within me and I am His through the power of my Baptism. He will keep careful watch over me and I will not be lost.

How did I come to this comparison in the first place? I am reminded at times that the church here on earth is made up of human beings. And to be clear I do not mean only the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, but the church as the community of believers in Christ the Lord. I see shortcomings and failings splashed across newspapers and the Internet as though I should be shocked that human beings make mistakes, saying or doing things that are hurtful to others. The media would like me to believe that being a Christian means being perfect when what it really means is to be broken but forgiven anyway. As to the Church as an institution, I have the free will to follow orders blindly or to question what I see as possible misinterpretations of God’s commands. God did not give me a mind and the ability to reason so that I could set them aside.

So I need to remind myself, daily and even many times throughout my day, that it is THROUGH the valley that I travel. I do not go blindly INTO it to meet my doom. And I will encounter doom, but not every doom is a “big doom”. There is a little battle against doom everyday. In every encounter with another, I can be facing “little doom” in fear of rejection, scorn, anger, or judgment. I was given free will and the commandment to love the Lord with all my MIND, which uses reason, logic, and questions to learn, all my HEART, which uses love and yet can be broken so very easily, and all my SOUL, where my strength drawn from my faith truly lies hidden like a deep well of solace. To love my Lord is to follow Him wherever He may lead me and yet I can speak to my Lord, question His judgment, argue, fight and rail against what I may see as unreasonable or impossible. I can question why and how. He may answer me and He may not. But when I have exhausted all my human reasoning and excuses, I ultimately have to trust that my Lord did not save me only to lead me to slaughter. No matter what evil, big or small, befalls me in this world; my journey will be THROUGH the valley to dwell in the house of my Lord forever.

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