The path through the world is not a continuous well-paved super-highway. The terrain of life has both high and low places. In the spiritual sense, we speak of mountain tops as well as valleys. Mountain top experiences have come to mean those times in life when we are doing well. Spiritually we are experiencing victories and many other areas of our life are going well. During these times we are enthused and feel that things could not get much better. Nearly every mountain is surrounded by vallies.
Valleys represent the challenging low places of life. The places that can be quite lonely and isolated. The Bible speaks often of the time spent in a valley. The Psalmist reminds us that even when we travel through the last and perhaps most frighting of valleys, the “valley of the shadow of death,” even in that valley we do not travel alone. A Valley can be a dry place as well as lonely and barren.
It is the valley that the beginning of mountaintop faith begins. When I am experiencing a mountain top in my life, is it not because the hard work was done in the valley? Work like, prayer, struggle, trust, perseverance and determination to name a few. Some enjoy retirement but life does not start there, it started years before by preparing and going off to work and doing your job day in and day out. You did not only work when it was easy to go to work, but you went when you did not feel like it and kept going through both the ups and downs and then you arrive at retirement. You would not enjoy the things you enjoy today if you were not faithful in the valley.
We need both, mountains and valleys in our lives. I would much prefer mountains, but the lessons I remember best were learned in the valleys of life:
- Struggle in the valley forces us to stretch and grow. Most of us would not put high on a list of things we like, the love of struggle. Yet we learned and were shaped by our struggles and the lessons learned.
- Valleys teach us we are need of Help. We are not self-made! We all face things beyond our ability. I learned in the valleys that I needed God’s help and grace.
- Valleys serve as the classroom for trust. We learn that we trust God even when we do not like what is happening especially what is happening this moment in my life! Travel through enough valleys and you will come to understand that He is faithful and trustworthy on good and bad days!
- There can not be a shadow without light! It came to me one day while reading Psalm 23 when the Psalmist expresses the hope that even when we walk through that scary place, the valley of the shadow of death, even on that final journey if you know God you do not make the journey by yourself! A valley with the shadow of death sounds so ominous and frightening. When I remembered that there cannot be a shadow without light, The light of the Lord will be with you and me even when we go through this valley.
- Valleys don’t last forever! Neither do mountains. The promise of His presence with us will keep us traveling up mountains, and through valleys and down the path of everyday living with a hope that is secure. We are loved and He promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Life is a journey it is better taken with a friend. There is a friend who will go with us every step of the way. Whether you are in a valley or on a mountain or anywhere in between. May God today give you joy for the journey.