Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When Christian Life is About the Valleys

I originally wrote this for a dear friend of mine, but after having a similar conversation with several people, I realized this was something that I should share openly with others.

I have had major struggles on and off for several years with being either hot or cold for Christ. When things got hard, it felt like God had forsaken me, and when things were easy, I felt like I was living life as I was meant to: being happy, content and on fire for the Lord. Through several years of God instructing me and leading me, I now know that living a life for Christ is not about what is on the mountain tops, but about what is done the deepest and darkest valleys. Before you say that I'm all backwards from normal mountain/valley examples of Christian living, please hear me through.

We are living in the deep dark valley of sin and this world, the mountain tops are only for a few moments of rest and rejuvenation. If you will, think about the size of a valley compared to the size of the top of a mountain. Depending on the valley and mountain, you may be living as much as twenty years in a valley with only three days on a mountain top! Christian life is lived mostly in the valleys. This is where our strongest stands, our biggest spiritual growths, and our boldest testimonies are made. We just may not see it until we are having our few moments on a mountain top. The key is to keep walking. We won't get any closer to our mountain top if we are sitting or lying down being miserable or pitying ourselves in the valley. The valley must be traveled through to get to the mountain, and it is our choice as to how long we 
stay in the valley.

I found that I thought the mountain tops were the essence of Christian living, and if I was going through a valley, I was out of God's will. As I stated above, the Lord brought me to the realization that this is not true. The Lord began to teach me how to walk. If I was to get through the valley, I had to walk through it. True, some valleys are darker than others, and some may have mire pulling and sucking at my feet making it more difficult to walk, but I have to walk to get through.

To walk properly, I need shoes on. One shoe is called prayer, the other is called God's word. I shouldn't have one without the other, and neither works very well by itself. Just as I put on my shoes before I go for a walk, I need to spend time in God's word and prayer before I start the day. If I find that I don't have time enough before I have to get started with breakfast or chores, I need to get up earlier. But if the day is going to start out well, I must start by putting on my shoes.

Next is to take a step. A step is an action. I can't take a step without doing something or moving something. If I want to get through my valley as fast as possible, I must take as many steps in a day as I can. Some, such as doing chores, a job, school or any other task, are relatively easy. I know how to take those steps with no problem. But just as there are different ways of walking, there are different ways I can do my duties.

If I were to take short, shuffling steps, I would be puttering about doing my duties and dawdling while working. If I were to take careless steps, not looking where I was going, I would be doing my duties in a careless manner, not doing them to the best of my abilities. The negative with careless walking is that I may step in a hole and it may take me a while to get out. I may one day have to stop and have a lot more work to do because I did not do my duties properly. The best way to walk is with strong, attentive steps. Doing each duty that comes up to the best of my abilities and "as unto the Lord". Then I can walk on, no stopping, no looking back.

If, when I walked, I constantly looked at myself, and was concerned and worried about how I was stepping and what I looked like as I was walking, I would trip up and slow down. Any runner running a race looking at his feet is bound to have a fall! I found that the more I looked at myself and my progress, or lack thereof, the more I would trip up. That's when the Lord taught me how to take another kind of step.

Thinking of and working for others is a very important step, especially if I'm around my family a lot. There are endless steps I can take, such as helping someone with their duties, doing things that I know my parents want done, and helping the house and yard to run as smoothly as possible. There is no thinking that something is not my responsibility, I want to take as many steps in a day as I can! Jesus thought of others more than Himself, and the best steps I can take are those that follow His footsteps.

Another step is a step of encouragement. These are, I think the biggest steps I can take, and that is when I go out of my way to encourage or uplift someone else, especially those in my family. If my sister is out of town where she can check her e-mail, I could daily send her an encouraging verse and short note of love and encouragement; when my brother was going to college, I would tape the same type of note on the steering wheel in his car every day. If Dad or the boys are out working all day (especially tiring, outdoor work), I can do all I can to make them feel at rested, loved, and encouraged when they come home. It amazes me how much what I do can affect those around me. If I get up early and have all the living area spotless by the time everyone wakes up, everyone is in a much better mood. If the house is clean, and I'm at the door when my dad comes home, with a smile and a joke for him, the whole evening runs smoother. In general, when others know that I am willing to go out of my way to make life as easy for them as possible, all of life seems to flow smoother and have a brighter atmosphere.

Of course, there are those times when the valley starts to become darker, or there is a swampy section of mire we have to plug through. But the key is to keep walking. Sadly, I almost always seemed to sit and stew in self-misery and pity or anger for a while before I even thought about taking the next step. Sometimes I kept walking, and believe me, it gets HARD. But after a faithful walking through the hardest valleys come the highest and brightest mountains. It is from the mountain tops that I can look ahead and see more of God's glory, look behind, and see the beauty of what He's brought me through, and can bask for a brief moment in the warmth of His comforting rays of rest and rejuvenation.

The biggest comfort of it all is that God is right there, walking next to me. He is ready and willing to walk hand in hand with me, sorrowing with me in my sorrows, taking joy in my joys. Of course, it is very easy to remove my hand from His, and I can even walk on my own for a while, but it won't be long before I get caught in a place where I have to reach for His hand to help me out of a hard spot. And you know, He's always there, waiting with an outstretched hand.

I know the way, but it is always up to me how I walk in it, or if I walk in it.

I hope and pray that you will walk through your valleys faithfully. God has a plan for you, my friend, and it is for you to find it and walk through.

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
(Revelation 3:8)

Posts from the Past
Every Wednesday I post something that I have written in the past. It may have been written a long time ago, or a very, very long time ago! :-D So please forgive any mistakes!

No comments:

Post a Comment