God Is

Day 21

He’s There Through It All

Read your Bible: Joshua 1:7–9

Spotlight Verse:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

The amazing story of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his famous ship Endurance has been the subject of a best-selling book and an award-winning film.

During his voyage to the South Pole, ice trapped and crushed his ship. Shackleton and three of his sailors left the rest of the crew and made their way in an open lifeboat over 800 miles of stormy Atlantic sea.

They then crawled over slippery glaciers and forbidding mountain peaks until they finally reached a manned outpost — and then the next day they turned around and went back to rescue every single person who stayed behind near the shipwreck.

That journey through hundreds of miles of the most alien landscape on earth is still a stunner. But how did he do it? Neither the book nor the movie will tell you what Shackleton himself said was key.

After his return to London, Shackleton revealed where he found the strength for his amazing trip. He said in a speech, referring to the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:

We all felt that there were not three, but four of us. When I look back upon those days, with all their anxiety and peril, I cannot doubt that our party was divinely guided… afterwards Worsley said to me, “Boss, I had a curious feeling that there was another person with us.” I can honestly say that it wasn’t bad. We always felt that there was something above… you all know the words, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me…” That 139th Psalm exactly fitted our case.40

He knew the ever-present help of God.

You Can Rest Secure

Before his death, Moses pronounces blessings on each of the twelve tribes of Israel, and he says something beautiful about Benjamin that is true of every believer:

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

I think of a small child asleep even while riding on Daddy’s shoulders, his drowsy head resting on his father’s head. Or a little helpless lamb carried on the broad back of a kind shepherd. Like them, you rest “between His shoulders.”

When Shackleton left on his last adventure, years after his amazing rescue of the Endurance crew, he knew he would probably not return alive. Intriguingly, he insisted on taking with him a primitive recording of a woman singing the hymn, Abide With Me. Some of the lyrics:

“I need thy presence every passing hour;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!”

He listened to that record as he died, apparently confident that the God who had been with him through the icy waters near the South Pole would lead him through the valley of the shadow of death.

God is… with me through the valley of the shadow of death.

Questions For Reflection

Read Deuteronomy 33:12 out loud. Have you ever thought of yourself as “resting between the shoulders” of a loving God? What do you think this image is intended to convey?

Particularly if you’ve been feeling anxious and abandoned, what steps can you take to practically change your thinking to reflect the truth that the “Fourth Man” is with you? (More on that tomorrow!)