If you were hiking, would you choose a mountaintop or a valley?
In your walk through life would you choose one over the other?
When you’re on a mountaintop and the sky is clear it seems you can see forever. The world is laid out before you and you can make a plan for where you’d like to explore or what areas to stay away from. Sometimes on a mountaintop we say we are “on top of the world”. It can be exciting, glorious experience and we may be reluctant to come down.
You may have heard someone speak of a mountaintop experience in life where he or she had an exceptional time of fellowship and learning, feeling especially close to the Lord. They may say they received new insight into their lives and clarity they were lacking. Just like hiking on a mountaintop we can be reluctant to come away from a mountaintop experience and return to the reality of life.
That life reality can sometimes bring a time in the valley. In contrast to being “on top of the world”, walking in the valley usually comes with a negative connotation. In the valley it might feel like we can’t see farther than a step or two ahead. It doesn’t seem we could get any lower, and looking up brings a reminder of the mountaintop that was so wonderful, now such a long ways away, far too far to climb.
I have been walking through a valley of sorts recently. It’s not the deepest valley I’ve been in but sometimes it feels that mountaintop is far away. The light can be difficult to find amidst the shadows and loneliness can easily set in. In the past I might have welcomed the darkness and allowed it to swallow me, but instead this time as I longed for the mountaintop I began to compare in a different way.
As I compared mountaintops to valleys I realized something important for me:
In nature there isn’t much that grows on a mountaintop.
While a few shrubs and wild grasses may grow on the mountaintop, things don’t generally flourish there naturally for long periods of time. The extreme climate and dry ground don’t nourish crops very well. The higher up you go on a mountain the less green you’ll see.
However, valleys are green and lush. The climate is more even and the ground holds more moisture to nourish crops. Valleys tend to be filled with colorful flowers and foliage. Seeds can be planted in valleys with confidence that growth will take place without a great deal of assistance.
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:27-31
I realized God desires me to grow in this journey through the valley. I can choose to focus on the shadows or look and listen for areas where God wants to bring that growth. I can worry about what tomorrow may or may not bring or I can see the beauty around me and trust that tomorrow will bring more joy, even if it’s in the midst of pain or sorrow.
And as always happens when I’m seeking God instead of feeling sorry for myself He showed me once again how I don’t have to walk through the valley alone. He walks beside me whether or not I sense His presence. And there are many here on earth to walk with me as well.
Possibly the most important area of growth in the valley is remembering others walk in valleys too, many darker and deeper than the one where I’m walking. They need companions too. I can walk with some side-by-side and others through prayer. As we walk together we will be strengthened by the presence and prayers of each other.
Are you walking through a valley today? How can I pray for you in your time of growth?
Yes, mountaintops are spectacular and precious times in our lives but we should never neglect our time in the valleys of life. Rather we should embrace the time and welcome the growth God has for us.
Blessings and peace to you wherever you’re walking today!