Mountains and valleys. We seem, as spiritual beings, to desire the mountain top experience with God. In Acts chapter 10, Peter has quite a mountain top experience with God. His vision of 3 sheets of animals shows him that all people can receive the gospel. This vision profoundly clarifies Peter’s understanding of the gospel message. That’s quite a mountain top! Then comes chapter 11. He is questioned about his actions and has to defend them. The displaced Christians of chapter 9 are moving to new places. There is even a famine for which the new Christians have to prepare. Talk about valleys!
Our lives are like that, aren’t they? We crave the mountain top and dread the valley. Yet, just like the new believers in the book of Acts, we learn much in those valleys. Isn’t that where the true test of faithfulness lies? It lies in the valley. It lies in whatever may follow the mountain top. A few years ago I had a mountain top. I went to an excellent conference on the pastor’s life of prayer. I learned much about my own prayer life and the prayer life that God’s Word challenges me to have. It was great!
Then, I came home. I had daily responsibilities. I had crunched schedules. I faced sleepiness, sick kids, and sermon deadlines, and the like. I must admit it – it was easier to pray when I was on the mountain. My faithfulness was tested (and is still being tested) here in the valley. It is being tested as I live in what comes next.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. 6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, 7 For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.Psalms 63:5-8
This Psalm helps us understand what the valleys can mean in our lives. These verses sound like a mountaintop. How does he describe his soul? He is “satisfied”. He is content. So, he offers praise. He remembers God, and he praises God with joy. He knows that God is his help. The Psalmist clings to God and knows that he is being upheld. Sounds good, right? However, this is a psalm of David. The Psalm’s prelude declares that it is, “a Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” Not a mountaintop. A valley. He is in exile in the wilderness. He is without his kingdom, alone, and scared. Yet, his closeness with God is not threatened. David is still walking close to Him. David knows that God has not abandoned him. He is still saying yes to God.
How about you? Are you saying yes to Jesus in the valley like you would on the mountain? Think about the disciples in Acts again for a minute. The disciples made the most of their opportunities when they weren’t where they wanted to be. They were kicked out of their homes. They were exiles due to persecution. Some of them had experienced imprisonment and even death just because they were living for Jesus. Yet, they used even the persecution to proclaim the glory of Jesus. A gentile Pentecost ensued in Antioch. How? It happened all because a group of persecuted Jewish Christians saw how God could use their sorrow to His glory. Are you and I ready to live for Jesus in the valley too? Oh, how I want to see the opportunities all around me, especially when I am in the valley!
Something to think about,
First posted in February 2001