“Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.”
- Valley of Vision
Heaviness. Unsettled. Confused. Frustrated. These are words that have been swirling around my mind the past couple of months. I know I’m not alone. In light of all that has transpired since August 27th, there seems to be a lowness to life for many people. A depression, so to speak.
We shy away from valleys, don’t we? Valleys are confining. They keep you from seeing what lies ahead. They can cause you to feel trapped or stuck. It’s on top of the mountain that you feel free. Open. Light. As if you could fly. It’s from the top that you can see clearly in all directions with no obstructions to your view of what lies ahead.
Unfortunately the road of life is not always traveled along the mountain tops. It winds its way through valleys and desserts. Low spots. Dry spots. Places of depression and lack of vision.
Where’s the hope in the valley?
I’ve been meditating on Psalm 84 lately. The psalmist writes about the loveliness of God and how His beauty stirs a deep longing to be where He is. The intense desire for God’s presence and recognition that even the lowliest of creatures find a place with Him erupts into joyous praise!
Blessed are those who dwell with God! Oh how I long to be there!
The fact that there is longing means that the psalmist hasn’t arrived. They are on a journey to the place where God is. And that journey travels directly through a valley. More specifically, the Valley of Baca, or in some translations Valley of Weeping.
So where’s the hope in the valley?
I believe verses 5 and 7 answer question.
The hope doesn’t lie in location. It’s not about being on the top of the mountain. The hope is found in a heart postured to journey to God. A heart gaining its strength from God Himself, rejoicing in His loveliness along the way, and gazing upon His fullness.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion…They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” - Psalm 84:5
When our hearts are set upon God and all His glory, the valley becomes a beautiful place. It becomes a place where springs and pools of refreshing can be found. It’s amazing how transformative a heart captured by the glory of God can be.
Eugene Peterson describes it as “God in full view!”
Thanks be to God, the valley truly can be the place of vision. The place where we can see, experience, and enjoy God like we never would on top of the mountain.
Paul says this to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
God is at work in our valleys. It is there He leads us from strength to strength, or from one degree of glory to another. Through the work of Jesus and the freeing power of the Holy Spirit, He removes the veil for us to see clearly no matter where we are in life. He lifts the burden. He provides shelter and protection along the way.
David speaks of another valley in Psalm 23:4, the valley of the shadow of death. Again, as in Psalm 84, God is there. He sustains and comforts the traveler through the valley.
So, if you’ve found yourself in a valley lately. Maybe you’ve been in a low spot or a depression. Look to God. Gaze upon His beauty. Don’t try to get out of the valley in your own strength. Rest in Him. Trust in Him. Believe in Him. Remember the goal of your journey: God in full view.
Know that in Christ, God can be seen in full view. There is a place for you at His altars, and He awaits you there. Posture your heart to journey towards Him, ever singing His praise along the way!