Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Little Something About Valleys

". . . burst into song, you mountains!
For the LORD comforts His people
and will have compassion on His afflicted ones."

I craned my neck, bending to peer out the airplane window that is much too small for a photographer's liking.  I took this picture of Mount Hood in Oregon, hoping to capture something of its breathtaking grandeur.  In gradients of blue and white, this sleeping volcano towers over dozens of lesser mountains, rugged ridges and rocky crags.  Range upon range laid out in rows, each just a layer in the landscape parfait before me.  Even the sky was arranged in layers above the mountain splendor that day, so I tucked it all neatly into my memory card in an effort to take it with me.

In this picture you can't see the valley floors between the mountains, but rest assured, they are there.

How deep?

How wide?

No telling.

I know a little something about valleys . . . I grew up in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.  Valleys are fertile places, and there are often, as with the Okanagan, rivers and lakes that fill the grooves between the peaks above. Rich nutrients wash down and down from rain and snow runoff in the spring, making the soil on the valley floor incredibly rich. The Okanagan is known for growing beautiful fruit trees with orchards of many kinds, and now for award-winning vineyards. Things grow in the valley.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things was getting to go to Fellowship of Christian Athletes conferences in the summertime.  We would rent a van and take a group of athletes to the conference in Ashland, Oregon and spend a week of "inspiration and perspiration" as they liked to describe it.  Those mountaintop experiences still hold extremely high spots on my list of the best times in my life.  At the end of the week, it was agonizing to say goodbye to people and to leave the spiritual mountaintop to head back for the valley, even the Okanagan Valley that I love so much.

I have always wanted to stay on the mountaintop.  One time when I was about 5 years old, we were returning to our home in Iowa from a summer living in Greeley, Colorado. About an hour into the trip, I started to cry.  When my momma and daddy asked me what was wrong, I sobbed, "I can't see my mountains anymore."  I still feel that way all these years later.  I love and long for "my" mountaintops!

Many of us are finding ourselves far from the mountaintops, in deep valleys right now.  Not places of our choosing, not places we want to stay, but places we have to live for the time being.  I have two friends battling breast cancer--they and their families are in a valley both deep and wide.  I have other friends whose husbands have been without work for months-stretching-into-years--I know that valley well, having lived there for over two years myself.  I don't live in that particular valley anymore, but we are in a bit of a financial valley, me looking for work, with maybe a few rolling hills along the way. I am praying for all of us to be led to higher ground!

I'm a mountain girl, remember Lord?!!

Things grow in the valley.

We grow in valleys too.

In the valley, we may live whole seasons, sometimes long seasons, where we will undoubtedly grow. God walks the valley times with us, and will not leave us there forever!

   No matter how deep the valley is,   
   it's only the foot of the next mountaintop.   

My perspective is so limited by being on the ground.  Sometimes the valley is so wide, I can't even see to the other side of it like the enormous Central Valley here in California.  Thankfully, God is not limited by what I can see.  He sees over the tops of all the ranges, past all the valleys, to the towering peak of where He's promised He's taking me.  WE. WILL. REACH. THE SUMMIT!!

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for He who promised is faithful."

Do you find yourself in a valley?
How does hope keep you moving toward your next mountaintop?


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