When I was about ten or so, I first read Helen Taylor's adaptation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress for children. It is called The Little Pilgrim's Progress and I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to introduce this classic to children. I read it to my own child as he was growing up and we've had many discussions about it. Even now we will refer back to it from time to time.
Anyways, perhaps that has influenced me to often focus on this particular passage of scripture as, according to Bunyan, the King's Highway runs right through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
To me, this has always represented any "dark path" I've had to walk. I often talk about walking on "dark paths" and this is indeed where that idea originates. It does not have to be a path where death is currently eminent rather it can refer to any "path" where it is difficult to see God's light and you must walk by faith.
I am no stranger to that path. Especially after my bout with cancer last year. This scripture came to mind time and time again. Since I will live with the possibility of recurrence for the rest of my natural life, I'm not sure I will ever completely off this path until I see Him face to face.
I am sure of one thing, however. He is with me even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He will never abandon me. In fact, He has even given me companions who willingly walk along beside me. He turns my darkness into light...even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death!