Donald Barnhouse was the pastor of Philadelphia's Tenth Presbyterian Church when his wife died and left him with young daughters to raise alone. He did something that I could never do: he conducted his own wife's funeral. It was while driving to that funeral that he realized that he had to say something to explain all of this to his girls, to somehow put in perspective for them something with which he himself was already struggling.
They stopped at a traffic light while driving to the funeral. It was a bright day, and the sun was streaming into the car and warming it. A truck pulled up next to them, and the shadow that came with the truck darkened the inside of the car. It was then that he turned to his daughters and asked, "Would you rather be hit by the shadow or by the truck?"
One of them responded, "Oh, Daddy, that's a silly question! The shadow can't hurt you. I would rather be hit by the shadow than by a truck."
It was then that he tried to explain to them that their mother had died and that it was as if she had been hit by a shadow. It was as if Jesus had stepped in the way in her place, and it was he who had been hit by the truck. He quoted the familiar words of Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."
There are many ways in which death has the darkest shadow of all. It strikes the greatest fear because it is the one valley through which we all must walk. There are no exceptions, no exemptions given to any of us who are here.
There is an old story about a mother who, shortly after she gave birth to her son in a Greek village, went to a nearby village to visit the old wise man there. She took her baby boy to the old ...
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