20180616

Staying Faithful During Trying Times and Emerging Better

"You're in the valley. Welcome to it." 
I’ve never been able to understand why Christians talk about “the valley” so much. We talk about the valley like we’re all on some pilgrimage, hauling backpacks across dry land for years before we see any sight of water. I’ve learned no one ever talks about the valley like it’s a good thing. Just the opposite — everyone dreads the valley.

When everything was exciting, I was happy... 
But eventually things stop being cool and we are left with everyday life.

“You’re in the valley.” This is her third time saying it. “Welcome to it.”

She (Carol) touches my shoulder as if she’s welcoming me to a club she’s been in for years.

I spend the rest of my time at home plowing through the Bible, searching for every reference to a valley I can find.

"Something really beautiful and necessary happens in the valley" 
Turns out, valleys are depressing places in the Bible, too, when we first look at them. Look a little closer though. Something happens in the valley. Something really beautiful and necessary happens in the valley. But really, this is most of my relationship with God. I see some dismal outcome and God is constantly pushing me to look closer and see something different.

I want God to pluck me out of this time of waiting, give me all the answers I’m asking for, and then send me on my way to my next adventure.

And so I tell him, “Pluck me out of this time of waiting, give me all the answers I am asking for, and then send me on my way to my next adventure.”

But no. He just leads me to Leviticus. Where there is plenty of valley stuff. Like God is sending me to my room, I get sent to the confines of Leviticus.

"Reality is the tough stuff." 
Moses is probably gone for less than a day before the Israelites go stir-crazy and want a new god. They decide they’re going to make their own god, and they settle on a golden calf to worship.

We look at this and think we would never do something so dumb. But you can replace the word cow with anything we find in everyday life that we think could fill us more than God could. I would definitely be dancing around the cow in the hope that the cow would affirm me and make me feel alive.

Moses comes off the mountaintop and has to face all of this crap. If I’d been Moses, I would have wanted to be done. I would have been angry over the fact that I’d just had this perfect time and communion with God and then was forced to walk down the mountain and go back to reality. Reality is the tough stuff. Reality is what happens when we make ourselves come back to earth instead of running.

"The valley is full of travelers." 
We want to run because it feels too hard to stay in these places where we aren’t sure of what’s coming next.

When I think I am on a solo quest, I realize the valley is full of travelers. Some are plowing full steam ahead. Others are tired and have stopped walking. Oswald Chambers writes, “God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision..."

[written by Hannah Brencher]