Posted by: Josh Larrabee
Focus Verse: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Psalm 23:4
Mountain tops are exhilarating. You are literally on top of the world as you gaze across creation. It is awe-inspiring and breathtaking, a feeling of wonder you never want to lose. But you can’t stay on top forever. Eventually, you must come down and resume life. Valleys on the other hand, can be breathtaking, but for different reasons. In a valley, you are surrounded by hills and mountains and the finiteness of your existence is thrown into sharp relief. It can be claustrophobic as you are enveloped on all sides. Valleys almost always have rivers or lakes that flow through them, adding to the obstacles one must overcome in order to get out. We often use mountains and valleys to describe the ebb and flow of life’s experiences but the amount of time we actually spend in either destination is less than we think. Those experiences make such a lasting impression on our lives, that we trick ourselves into thinking they lasted longer then they actually did. We all want to perpetually feel like we’re on top of the world with mountain top experiences and we all try to avoid valley’s like the plague. The truth is, we are not in control of when those experiences will take place. Sustaining emotions related to the mountain top is unrealistic; life always catches up. Valleys seem to drag on and on and it takes a lot of work and a lot of prayer to get out of them. Both are transformative in their own ways and trigger growth but what about the majority of the time we spend in the in-between?
The literature that was written during the times of the Old Testament often referred to mountain tops as the dwelling place of deities. We even see examples of that in the Bible (Mount Sinai, Mount Zion, etc.). It’s no wonder we feel closer to God when we experience those exhilarating moments in life when we feel like we’re on top of the world. Valley’s give us the opposite feeling though and it can seem like God is no where in sight. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He is always walking with you, through the highs and the lows. Psalm 23:4 says, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” He is by our side in the highs and the lows and our faith is strengthened in those times. However, we can’t rely on them to continue to develop our relationship with Him.
Valleys in nature always have an ending point. The rivers that maneuver their way through the mountains end up at a destination of fertile ground, separate from the mountainous surroundings. Life thrives and is abundant in these areas as the water nourishes the ground. In the same way, it is in these fertile areas where our souls are nourished and our roots can grow deep outside of our own mountains and valleys. Psalm 1 tells of the person who is in daily communion with God, who is like a tree planted next to a stream, always being nourished and strengthened. This is the in-between. When we experience the highs and the lows, our response is influenced by those times in the in-between where we cultivate a deeper relationship with our Father. The more we develop a relationship with God, the deeper our roots will grow so that the lows don’t uproot us and the highs keep us grounded in His goodness. Life is unpredictable, but our response to it doesn’t have to be. Let us continue to deepen our roots of relationship with God in the in-between.