“The Lord…Who sendeth forth springs in the bottoms of the valleys,
Between the mountains they take their course.”
We tend to glory in those events in our lives that we consider to be “mountain-top” experiences. We humans are emotional beings, blessed with a variety of senses and a wide range of moods. We have been created in the image of God.
He is not a stoic, predictable, hum-drum figure. He is a Living Person. He speaks. He listens. He watches. He feels. He grieves. He laughs. He rejoices. He weeps. He loves. He hates. He Is.
Yet even though we have been created in His image, we are a disjointed and crooked people. Though He is all love, we are naturally spiteful, bitter, and motivated by depravity. Though He is entirely pure in thought and action, we are drawn to the wicked and swallowed up by the low moral tone of this dying age. Though He is fervent and faithful, we are morally spineless, spiritually lazy, covenant breakers, and embarrassingly inconsistent. When we are born from above, this changes in a radical way. Still, there are all kinds of inconsistencies and rough edges in character and thought which need to be refined. We are created in His image, but our “spiritual equilibrium” has been rocked by the influence of the world and we barely know how to walk- especially in a valley.
I love the “mountain-top” times. I love those seasons of my life when it seems that the presence of God and the word of the Lord invade my day and bring to me a consciousness of the Kingdom. I love to be spontaneously moved to prayer and worship. I love it when, in an effortless manner, I find myself yearning for the Word. I love it when there is a sudden grace to serve someone, or a sudden faith to lay hands on a sick person. God Himself has given us “mountain times.” But He is also the Author of the valleys, and it’s the believer that drinks deeply from the “springs in the bottoms of the valleys” who will be the overcomer, both now and at the end of the age.
We all have mountain times, some more often than others. But be assured that if you are going to be an overcomer in the Kingdom of our God, you will have to become a pioneer of the valleys. You will have to allow the Lord to shift your understanding of what the difficult or seemingly uninspired times really mean. You will have to look upon everything- the tension of not knowing what lies ahead, the inconvenience and trial of rugged terrain, the situations that cause offense- through a whole different lens.
I must say, it is a blessed thing to be “unoffendable.” If the valley can offend me, it can rob me of the springs. If I’m offended by what a person said, or by what I didn’t get (that I surely deserved!), or by something unpleasant that sideswipes my life, I’ve lost the race. It is right there, in an offended state, that I lose the gladness which comes from the river of God. Many saints have become discouraged or incapacitated because of offense.
“So-and-so gave me a dirty look.”
“They appointed him a leader in the church and I’ve sacrificed so much more than him!”
“I said I wanted no mustard on this! I’m going back to give them a piece of my mind.”
“Why are they giving him all the attention? I’ve got more revelation and wisdom than him.”
These kinds of offenses are signs that we have not fully realized our adoption “in the Beloved One” (Eph. 1). We are looking for approval from men. We are still dominated by a self-centric mode of thinking. We have not taken up the cross and followed Him with every part of our hearts. We are still trying to save our lives and our reputations. We are still allowing little bumps in the valley to rob us of the joy and fulfillment of knowing the Son of God and walking with Him in a living communion.
By succumbing to offense, we are postponing and potentially forfeiting the eternal reward that has been laid up for us; namely, a crown of righteousness, given to us by the King Himself. If we do not allow the Lord to deal with the issue of offense in our hearts, if we are complainers, if we are whining about how difficult things are, we are still candidates for “falling away” when greater times of turbulence come. If we are not willing to believe God and worship Him from the valleys, we are still fixed in a condition that could eventuate in apostasy when more difficult times come. Are you giving in to offense and bitterness, friend? What will be your response when even greater trial comes? If you are not free to worship and trust the Lord in the valleys of life, you may already be posturing yourself for a backsliding.
We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every one of us has the opportunity to hear Him declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” What offense can I cling to, what temptation can I bow to, what trial can I allow to consume my heart that is worth delaying or even missing the wonder and glory of that day? Dear child of God, the Father Himself calls you to His springs, and I am suggesting that they spring forth most gloriously when we tap them from the bottom of the valleys.
Pressure will come. Situations will arise. Men will wrong us. Such is life in a fallen world. Yet only those who know and see the Father in the ruggedness and mundaneness of the valley will have the grace to go on unmoved when the daggers of opposition and trial come flying.
Oh beloved children! There is a stream in the very bottom of the valley. Do not be mistaken. It’s there. You will not feel it, you will not hear its flow, you will not automatically be refreshed by the mist it produces. But if you bow low in meekness and acknowledge the Presence of God in your life, you may drink from it and be satisfied.
God’s pioneers are the ones who have learned (over time) to find the “springs in the bottoms of the valleys.” They are not emotionless robots. They too feel the pressure of life’s trying events. They are tested by the same things that cause others to fold and crumble. They have learned to see the valley through the eyes of God. Indeed, they have learned to see God in the valleys. If you ask them, they will tell you, “Yes, yes dear one. There is a stream in the valley. There is a sabbath reality there. It is in Him. He’s there in the valleys as much as He is on the mount. There is unexplainable peace there. There is holiness there. But you must seek His wisdom from the bottoms of the valleys. You must have faith. Oh friend, faith is everything in the valley.”
Are you offended? Anxious? It is only because you have given yourself to some other counsel than the Voice of the Lord. Please hear me: If you have been born from above, you’ve been adopted into a glorious Kingdom, and the Blood of God’s own Son has permanently rent the veil for your sake. You are not an orphan any more. He is calling you to enter, dear saint.
When we see Him, our desire to prove something or impress others is utterly demolished. When we hear Him, we can no longer put on a religious mask or cloak ourselves in some fake piety. When we encounter Him, we are purged and cleansed of all unrighteousness. We are shocked and transformed by the wonder of Divine Love. If we will set our minds on things above “where Christ is” (Col. 3), we will know God in reality- on the height of the mountain and in the most disparaging of valleys- and our joy will be full.
Great Father, have for Yourself a community of pioneers. Pilgrims who refuse to walk in the valleys without You. Build up the “inner-man” of Your Church. Cause us to drink freely, however contrary to the world- and even to our own minds- it may seem. We want to overcome all these things, not just to say we’ve overcome. We want to overcome because to know You in the valleys is to know You in reality. What a joy. What an awesome invitation. We come, Lord.
Even though I walk through the valley… You are with me… -Psm. 23.4
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