Monday, May 12, 2008

Venturing Through The Valleys

A valley is not exactly where one prefers to be. Most people would much rather be up on that mountaintop. But yet we read in Psalm 23:4 “though I walk through the “valley” of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

The Good Shepherd will never lead us where He doesn’t want us to be. He knows exactly where the green pastures are but sometimes He takes us into the valley before we reach them. Why? Why are the valley experiences a must for each believer? Because it’s in the valley that we grow spiritually. It is in the valley that we realize how much we need our Good Shepherd and how lost we would be without Him.

Notice that David says he walks “through” the valley. He does not go half way through and then decide to turn around. He doesn't just stop there. No, he goes through. David knows that the only way to come out of the valley is by going through it. There’s no other way.

And, the Shepherd doesn’t lead His sheep only so far and then just leaves them stranded there. He doesn’t say “okay my little sheep” I’ve led you through this far now you’re on your own. I’m outta here! No, He leads them “through” until we are all the way out. He’s with us every step of the way gently leading and guiding us to the green pastures that await us.

Another key is this Psalm is the word “walk.” It doesn’t say to hurry or to run through the valley. It says David walked. What’s the importance of walking? If we hurry through we’ll never get the full understanding of what the Good Shepherd wants us to learn while in our own personal valley. Hurry is a great enemy of our spiritual well being. It will distract us and cause us to fall off the path that leads to the mountaintop. Think about Jesus….even when He was in the most difficult of circumstances He never hurried through them. He remained obedient to the will of His Father and His Father’s timing for each circumstance. May we follow Jesus’ example and not hurry our valley experience but rely on our Shepherd to bring us through according to His perfect timing. Don’t be so frantic to get out of the valley that you miss the significance of why you are there.

Each valley is different for each person. And though we may cry out to God, “Get me out of here, I’ve had enough, I can’t take it anymore”. Or we might say something like, “How much longer Lord, how much more of this? I want to be on that mountaintop NOW!” We want God to say “yes” quickly, we want so badly to arrive on the mountaintop. But God says “no” not yet my daughter. Not yet! There’s a “yes” that awaits you outside this valley, but if you get out of your valley too soon, you’ll never experience the true freedom and deliverance that awaits you. Our Shepherd calls us and says, “Come my daughter let’s continue our walk, follow me. And even though it may be hard, remember that goodness and mercy are right behind you all the days of your life. Yes, even here in the valley, particularly in the valley.

As we go through our daily lives we are told in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

While we are in the valley we are to “ask” the Good Shepherd to lead us and to show us what our next step should be. We are then to “seek” His answer. In other words, He’s shown us what steps to take, now keep “walking,” keep moving forward in search of His answer. Don’t stay where you are in the valley or you’ll never get through. Knock implies to be persistent – keep moving forward, keep searching until you find His answer. It is then that you will get through your valley and arrive at your mountaintop.

The decision is ours. Will we be like the Israelites who wandered for 40 years or will we follow the leading of the Good Shepherd?

I pray for each one of you who may be in their own valley right now. May you find God’s strength to continue your journey upwards to your mountaintop. May you find His comfort along the way knowing that He’ll never lead you to a place where He doesn’t want you to be. May this Venture Through The Valley bring you to a greener pasture refreshed and restored with a renewed love for the Shepherd who laid down His life for you.

No comments: