Lifting the Vale

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:4-5)

Decisions, decisions, decisions

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)

I live in a valley. The Rogue Valley of Southwestern Oregon. Why it’s called that, I couldn’t tell you. The state motto is “She flies with her own wings.” A roguish slogan if ever there was one. I find that the “valley of decision” connotes a sort-of anxiety-laden and indecisive spirit. One that tends to prevent true (and new) and lasting deep bonds to form for lack of patience and love. No big deal, just that it might take a little longer for something resembling a true Christian community to form and coalesce. Hang in there. God may have to take you down to, and back to, the most important of decisions–the one that brought Him into your life in the first place. And to walk before Him with that and only that in mind. Really, after salvation, what more do you need? Well…

On purpose, on porpoise

“So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable… That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” (104:25a, 29)

To “porpoise” means “To rise and fall in the manner of porpoises.” A simplistic yet pointed definition. In the book of Joshua (see chapter 7), one “Achan” gets the idea to take the spoil from, I presume Jericho, after the fantastic victory God secured for them there. As this was a no-no, God decides to enact judgment upon Achan and his family. A sad day for all. Made all the more considering the next city taken was the one from which God allowed the acquisition of spoil. Fast-forward 700 years to the book of Hosea (2:15a). God prophecys saying “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth…”. Here’s the thing. The place in which Achan lost his life for attempting to spoil the work of God was named “Achor”, meaning “troubled”. The Valley of Achor. The place of trouble. Granted, we don’t live for 700 years (at least on this earth) but the struggles we go through in our past are indeed the doors through which God will bless us down the road. I find this to be in keeping with many, if not all salvation experience in that God has to allow us to (and has us) go through the desert before we reach the Promised Land. Come to think of it, that’s where we were prior to the verse in Hosea (the desert–see Hosea 2:14)

Vale of tears

“Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be still praising Thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” (Psalm 84:4-7)

That’s what “Baca” means–weeping. Much dispute flies over the where and what for and why of “Baca”. In a strictly metaphorical sense, it pertains to that place in us wherein we are overhauled by way of the harshness of our surroundings. Assuming we’re moving, mountaintop experiences cannot last. We go up, we go down, we march through. “Passing through the Valley of Baca…” it says we leave behind wells of water. Something to refresh those coming after. Your life is a testimony for good or ill. Praying for God’s answers during the trying times of your valleys will bring the rain of refreshing to both fill the wells, and also the pools. Meaning there will be more than enough to go around.

The end of the terminal

“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

There it is again. It is important to remember this substrate fact: we are going through–you are going through. It might sound trite and clichéd and have no bearing on what you presently feel (assuming you are struggling through whatever). Thing is, as you begin to reach that light at the end–the light to which you’ve always been moving–it will come back (hopefully not to haunt you). You were going through. God takes no delight in the suffering of any of His children, but as Jesus (being the first born) suffered, so must we. The valleys are essential. I feel though, citing the very top passage, that the concept itself is going to be streamlined as the days go on and as God’s revelation increases the world over. Jesus said as much:

“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:5-6)

 

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