I am fully aware of what a valley is. According to dictionary.com, it is “A long, narrow region of low land between ranges of mountains, hills or other high areas, often having a river or stream running along the bottom.”
Why am I writing about valleys today? I’m writing because I’m in my own valley right now. In thinking of a valley experience, The Lord brought Psalm 23 to my mind. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.” You know the rest. I will not divulge all the details of my situation right now, but it definitely doesn’t feel good. For me, it’s a place of mistakes, imperfections and failures. I know I am reminded of my venture to Utah’s Bryce Canyon when I moved out to Austin. We were hiking with about 60 sixth graders. While it is beautiful and I was just hiking away, it was easy while I was going down and taking in the scenery. A valley appears one way but can be quite deceptive. However, when it was time to come out from the valley, the challenge hit me slam in the face. I was so taken aback by the beautiful rock formations that I failed to notice that I was walking downward and it didn’t dawn on me that I would have to walk up out of that place. Let me tell you it was the hardest thing I ever had to do! I couldn’t breathe. I felt like my lungs were collapsing. I don’t have asthma, but it felt like I could have been having an asthmatic attack. I hadn’t even considered the difference in altitude. My legs were like lead, as in the metal. The higher I climbed, the more gravity worked against me! Through my blood, sweat, tears, the help of one of my co-workers, and the faithful help of my student angel, I finally made it out of the canyon. I cried in front of my students and they saw my brokenness. They were so encouraging and cheered me on. The closer I got to the top, the more the kids cheered, “You can do it, Ms. Hall! You’re almost at the top!” When I got out, I bawled even harder.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.” This brings me to my dark valley. That scary, unknown place. This is where I feel that I am right now. Our walk with God is perfect because we serve a perfect God, but we are not. It doesn’t mean that we will not have trials, tests and tribulations. All I can tell you is that they don’t feel good, but they are very necessary for our growth. Even when I can not see it; God, I’m still going to believe it. In my valley, I feel like I can’t hear God. I know He spoke and set my feet upon a certain path. Did I miss Him? Did I hear Him clearly and correctly? The honest answer is, right now, I simply don’t know. In that unknown space, I’m afraid. I don’t want to cry out in desperation, but right now, I’m thirsty! I’m thirsty to hear God and to know His will. Even in my valley, I have amazing friends and family. Just when you think you’re about to throw in the towel, God sends reminders of His goodness and faithfulness. He sends reminders that he has not forgotten about me. Most recently, God used my brother-in-law to remind me of His love for me. It was Tuesday morning (3/13/18) and Rob texted me. “Good morning, Angie. I just want you to know that I’m praying and trusting God to supply you with strength to make it out of that valley. You have asked ‘why you?’ Because God knows your strength and the faith and trust in Him to lift you out of that valley. He is refining you right now through the pain; He’s refining you through the tears; He’s refining you. The Lord knows what He is doing. Are you ready for what He’s going to do? Remember His promises; He will protect you; He will guide you; He will bless you. So praise Him with a joyful heart because in spite of it all, He deserves all praise and glory. I love you more in your valley.”
Wow. It was that encouragement that touched me, but even more so, when he told me, “I love you more in your valley.” If you only knew our story and how much it means for him to say that to me. To be loved in a place of failure and imperfection; to be loved in a place of mistakes; to walk in a place of shame, but SURELY the God I serve is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I can ask and imagine even when I’m a mess. He loves me in my valley place. He demonstrates His love for me in that valley place. Can you love me in my valley? Can you love yourself in your valley? Things can turn around in the valley. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”