This life is full of highs and lows. Hills and valleys. Mountains and canyons. Peaks and pits. It often feels like a rollercoaster; one minute you’re soaring free, and in the blink of an eye you’re being jerked around unexpected corners and dropping to certain death.
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic.
BUT there is a constant that remains, no matter where we are, no matter what season we’re in: God. He is our constant. His omnipresence doesn’t depend on us. He doesn’t change like the rise and fall of our circumstances or emotions. And we are never beyond His reach; we’re never far from His love.
We often think of valleys as times of being alone or isolated, seasons where we’re far from God. Mountains are seen as those special occasions with God, retreats and conferences where our passion is stirred and our lives are changed. The common thought is that we can’t live on the mountain, and that pretty soon we’ll be in another valley.
But if we can keep a right perspective, if we can keep our eyes fixed on Him and the truth that His love is present no matter what we’re going through, our journey heavenward can look radically different.
Webster’s defines valley as “an area of lowland between hills or mountains.” Obvious, I know, but did you catch it? The valley is between the mountains. The valley is where the mountains meet. There is a purpose to the often-despised valley, and it has an important connection to the longed-for mountain.
We all have things we have to walk through, valleys we must journey through that eventually lead to mountains. The road to the mountain might be more bumpy and windy than we expected.
I’ve lived in the valley… literally. (Skagit Valley and Dungeness Valley.) In waiting to see where God will call us next, I can’t help but hope for a mountain. A hill. Some elevation. A change in scenery. I’ve felt the spiritual weight of the physical valley and I long for the mountain. While the trek through the valley can be tiring, it’s also necessary. God can use that time to draw us close to Himself and show us that He is always there.
I’m starting to wonder if we’re not supposed to get too comfy on the mountain. If this life is a journey and our destination is heaven, there are valleys we’ll need to persevere through and mountains we’ll have to climb and conquer. And we’ll have to keep going. It’s all part of our sanctification process, and God will carry on to completion the good work He began in us.
Maybe we can’t stay on the mountain because the air is thin and pride makes it a little hard to breathe. The sense of accomplishment might begin to cloud our perspective and we might start to think we made it to the top on our own. We need the valleys, the stretches of rocky terrain, to help us keep our dependence on Him alone. Oh, that we would learn in our valleys and believe with our whole being that we can experience Him, His love, even in the depths of our despair.
In the midst of the valley, we can have a “mountaintop experience.” Why? Because God, in His grace and mercy and unfailing love, meets us right where we are. He is with us! When we’re aware of Him – of His love, of His presence – the trek through the valley is bearable. The time spent there is worth it, because in that place He becomes our destination, our answer, our home. He becomes our mountain, our high hill, our dwelling place, even if our surroundings show us something different.
“He offers a resting place for me in His luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where He restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure, and leads me along in His footsteps of righteousness, so that I can bring honor to His name. Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for You are near.” – Psalm 23:2-4 (tPt)
The valley is not the destination; it’s not intended to be a dwelling place. We’re meant to walk through the valley. But He can use the valley to restore and revive us, to provide for our needs and to satisfy our weary souls with Himself.
“Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to Him and revering Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land – a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills…” – Deuteronomy 8:6-7 (NIV)
He will bring us into a good land – good because it’s where He is. A place that is pleasant, a place of provision – a place of hills and valleys.
“O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.” – Psalm 43:3 (NASB)
What a beautiful prayer – Lord, send Your light and truth to guide me to where You are!
Sometimes the valley gets steeper before it starts to incline. Sometimes the shadows get a little darker before the light breaks through. Sometimes the struggle gets a bit harder before relief comes. But God is our constant. His love is always available.
Here are two of my favorite songs right now (with some of my favorite lyrics)… I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen!
- Mountain to Valley by Housefires – “Your presence always covers me… You take me in, You lead me out… When I don’t know what steps to take, this one thing I can’t escape, Your love…”
- Hills & Valleys by Tauren Wells – “No matter what I have, Your grace is enough; no matter where I am, I’m standing in your love…”
We recently finished up the Hosea Bible Study by Jennifer Rothschild, and Hosea 2:14-15 was one of my favorite sections. God was going to bring Israel into the wilderness, speak kindly there, and use the valley of Achor – the valley of trouble – as a door, an entrance, a gate of hope. The Hebrew word for hope used in this verse is tiqvah; “literally a cord (as an attachment), figuratively expectancy, expectation, hope, thing that I long for.”
God can use our valley of trouble as a door of hope, as a promise to new heights with Him. It’s our job to knock and to trust that He will open the door He wants us to walk through. (According to His timeline, not ours.) It might not be what we expected, or what others will expect of us. But the greater question is – will He find us faithful to go through the valley with Him, and to receive His love and the hope He has for us? To be bold enough to venture up the mountain? We can rest secure all along the way that Jesus made a way for us to have a personal relationship with God now – wherever we are.
The view from the mountaintop can be exhilarating; the valley itself can be exhausting. Both can be overwhelming, in good ways or bad, but neither have to be places of fear. Why? Because His perfect love, His present love, casts out all fear.
What an honor to walk this journey on earth with Him, through every valley and over every mountain, until we reach eternity.