Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Wednesday, March 15

Walking Through the Shadow

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me…” Psalm 23:4.

These words from the New King James version of the Bible have great meaning to me for a couple of reasons. First, I gave Dovie Lou this particular Bible on November 5, 1996, her 51 birthday. She used it for her many Bible studies here at Reformation. Second, and equally special, it was these words that I relied on in the days and weeks leading up to my liver transplant.

On March 16, 2005, the day we lost Dovie Lou, these words were on my mind. During her 38-month struggle with leiomyosarcoma, an aggressive cancer, she exemplified one who believed in God and trusted him to carry her through her “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” She was the best example of a person who trusted the words of the 23rd Psalm I’ve ever known. We, as a family, grieved her passing, knowing she was in a better place and that her trials were put to rest. Her mercy, kindness and love were excellent examples of the mysteries of God’s grace.

I believe that October 12, 2011 was the beginning of a new path for living, provided to me by Jesus Christ. After seven months of praying and learning with my faith partner, I could feel the presence of God in my hospital room. I prayed each day, asking that God deliver a liver that would allow me to live. On September 18, 2011, I entered the hospital for what turned out to be my final visit. About the last week of September and the first week of October, my prayer changed, for no apparent reason. I began telling God that I was turning my life over to him. “It is your will, not my will. If it is your will that I receive a liver transplant, I am ready; but if it is your will that I be called home, I am ready for that too.” On the morning of October 12, I received God’s answer. I am here today to travel a new path in life, an opportunity to serve others and share this mystery of God’s grace.

I am a common man. I have no skills or talents that set me apart from any other of God’s children. During my final year of battling primary sclerosing cholangitis, I missed as many as six compatible livers because I was considered too ill to survive the operation. Yet, when I was within a week or so of passing away, God delivered a liver strong enough to bring me back to good health. For reasons beyond my comprehension, I “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” unscathed, so that I might serve Christ better than before, a mystery of God’s grace I will never fully understand. All praises to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gene Bowers

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