I am limping through a deep valley today. Over the course of our journeys there are moments we reach a higher place and we can see the beauty around us and the vast road ahead with its endless possibilities. On these mountaintops we are heartened, we are encouraged, and then we are led down into the valley once more. To reach the next peak we must first travel into the valley. The valleys of my life have held sickness, loss, sorrow, anger, doubt, exhaustion, depression and fear. One of beauties of the high places is seeing below and behind what you have already conquered and come through alive. You take a moment and breathe in the success of your journey, laugh at the scars you earned along the way, and revel in the glorious feeling of triumph that comes with survival. The mountaintop calls out in victory while also revealing all that’s still ahead. The view from the high places reveals the staggering truth that the journey ahead won’t be easy and you won’t be able to do it on your own.
In the valley I seek relief from pain, I yearn for joy in the midst of the difficulty, I search for purpose in the suffering and hope it has an end. More than once I have reached the end of my rope. As I face the end of myself I have a choice to make. Should I give up? What would that even look like? Stop looking for hope and joy in the mundane of putting one foot in front of the other. Refuse to offer thanks for the good I can see in each day and the help provided along the way. When I reach the end of myself and I don’t give up I realize I am being carried by His grace. My spirit will not give in because it is bolstered by the Spirit within.
In the valley all I can see are the trees beside me and the path ahead of me. I can be discouraged as I focus on my inability to see the peaks ahead that I long for. Or, I can take it as a comfort that all I have to worry about is what is right in front of me. When I am on the mountaintop, I can see the beauty all around and take in the sweet elation of victory or I can look at the treacherous stretch ahead and tremble over how I will achieve the next summit. The mountaintop and the valley remind me how very small I am.
On any long journey, there are points where it is time to rest. I want to reach the next peak as quickly as I can, but in my haste I become hurt and exhausted. How wise it would be to decide before I get hurt, “today I will set up camp in the valley and enjoy the rest and comfort it has to offer.” The rest will prepare me for the summit ahead and I will arrive whole rather than ragged. Today is a day for setting up camp. It is time to take a break and enjoy the dense forest around me instead of straining to see the light at the top of the hill ahead. I don’t have much experience with this, so I’m seeking help from the Source of all light. What does it mean to cease striving? What does it mean to be still without giving up the journey ahead?
Hope whispers to my heart today. There is victory on the mountaintop, but there is great beauty in the valley. The harsh environment at the top of the peaks doesn’t allow for things to grow. No trees or flowers are found there. Today is a day to camp out in the valley, where the water flows and the vegetation can flourish.
The valley is the place I am called to grow and rest.