Tuesday, November 28, 2006

UP FROM THE VALLEY

There is a saying that you can not truly enjoy a mountaintop high unless you have first walked through the valley. It is easier to sit calmly, nod your head in agreement and chirp happily when you are sitting on top of the mountain, or even if you are somewhat close to it. But when you are slogging through the depths of a valley, it is far more likely you will be tempted to pace anxiously, toss sleeplessly and sing the blues.

Everyone has to walk through a variety of valleys in life. Some are so deep and the surrounding mountains tower so high a person can neither see a mountaintop nor imagine one exists.

Jane Eggleston wrote a beautiful poem, “It’s in the Valley I Grow.” http://www.llerrah.com/dreams.htm is only one of many Internet websites where it is posted.

If you do not believe this, recall the trials of Job. God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8 NKJV) Yet he allowed Satan to take away everything Job possessed – children, herds, flocks, servants –and to torment Job physically, though Satan could not take Job’s life. Job was reduced to sitting in an ash heap, covered with boils. His three friends were no more comforting or encouraging than his wife, who told him to put himself out of his misery – “curse God and die.” Everything in Job’s life looked dire.

Still, in the end, Job was able to see the LORD through eyes filled with awe. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear. But now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5, 6) Job came through the trials with a humbler attitude and a deeper discernment of the LORD God. He slogged through a tough valley before sitting on the mountaintop.

My mother’s sudden illness and death dropped a heavy burden on my shoulders and affected every aspect of my life. I am struggling with illness and infection, deficient financial resources, and the void in my life and plans – to name just a few mountains I have been facing in my own deep valley recently.

I do not sleep through the night at the best of times, and since my mother’s rapid downhill spiral, I spend a good portion of the night awake. Sometimes I am able to concentrate on God and think thankful, praising thoughts. Other times worry wins the battle of my thoughts.

The last couple of days have been rife with discouraging news. It is a battle to not be dragged down and crumple in the mire of the valley I am walking through. So I thought I would write this to encourage others who are plodding through their own valley today.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:16, “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” A shield is not any good to a soldier unless he uses it.

Neither can we walk by faith instead of sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) when our thoughts become rooted in the valley of fear.

Reflect instead on God’s faithfulness and providence to help you traverse the valley of hope to reach the mountaintop.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1, 2

Yes, when you are low in the pit and the surrounding mountains hem you in, look up from the valley.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

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