Monday, October 24, 2011

Lessons from the Valley

Hello dear friends,

If we were to sit down across from one another and I was to ask you how you are doing, what would you say? Would you give me the common Sunday-morning-church-act-like-you-got-it-all-together answer of "I'm fine" or "I'm good"? What if I leaned in, looked you square in the eye and said, "Now tell me how you are really doing." Maybe things in your life truly are great right now, and you are on top of the mountain enjoying God's blessings in your life. If that is the case, I celebrate with you! But - I know there are those of you who would say that things really aren't so fine right now. Maybe you have found yourself smack dab in the middle of a valley. I have heard this far too often from some precious brothers and sisters in Christ lately, and God impressed upon my heart that it was time to share with you some things that He has been teaching me, a fellow sojourner presently traveling through the valley myself.

Let me preface this by saying that I definitely did not start out in the valley believing all of these things. I have had my share of questions and doubts just like many of you. I have had moments when I wondered if God had forgotten about me. There have been many times I felt like throwing in the towel and giving up because it was just too hard. However, in the midst of all the confusion, unknowns and uncertainties, God has been using this season to teach me. He has been opening my eyes to see the real beauty that lies in the valley.

You may be wondering how in the world you could ever see your valley as beautiful. I am not saying that the circumstance that placed you in the valley is beautiful. Let's face it - life can be downright hard and unfair sometimes. The only view you may see in front of you right now might seem dark, scary, long and lonely. However, God promises to bring good out of every single thing that happens in your life (Rom. 8:28). He alone can take the barren, dusty groud you tread upon and turn it into something beautiful, lush and green.

God also promises that you will never have to walk alone. Psalm 23:4a (NLT) states, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me." Even when you can't feel God's presence, He is there. He hasn't abandoned you, precious one. In fact, these are the times that He draws us in close - near to His heart.

Another beautiful thing that God can do during this season is to speak to you in ways you have never heard Him before. I personally have never been so sensitive to the voice of God as I have been while in the valley. It is here that I have learned how to listen to the voice of my sweet Savior. Ezekiel 3:22 (NLT) says, "Then the LORD took hold of me and said, 'Get up and go out into the valley, and I will speak to you there.'" If God has led you to this place, dear one, He has something He wants to say to you - something He wants to teach you. He is speaking - Listen to Him!

That next verse in Ezekiel goes on to say, "So I got up and went, and there I saw the glory of the LORD...". God's intention for leading you through a valley is ALWAYS for the purpose of His glory. There is something so glorious He wants to do in all of this! This is an opportunity for Him to show you and those around you what He is capable of.

A common fact about the valley is that this is where the fruit grows. Another purpose for God leading you through the valley is to produce fruit in your life. It is to your Father's glory that your life bears much fruit (John 15:8). To experience this growth, however, you HAVE to stay connected to Jesus. In John 15:5 (MSG), Jesus said, "I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with Me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing."

Yes, precious child of God - a harvest will come if you stay connected to the One who breathes life into your very soul. Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV) says, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." The Message says that they "will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing!" God promises to exchange our tears for laughter! Each one of your tears is a seed that God can produce a crop from. The more tears you have had to endure, the more seeds that can be sown. The more seeds that are sown, the larger the harvest is going to be. Before you know it, that barren ground isn't going to be so barren anymore. Eventually you will begin to see the results of what God wanted to bring about in your life in this season. In fact, you might turn around to find that your valley has produced a crop that looks a little something like this one found in a valley in Israel:
That's right! A harvest is coming my brothers and sisters! God is who He says He is! He always keeps His promises! If you feel like quitting - don't! Allow God to lead you while He tightly holds onto your hand.  For at the proper time, you're gonna reap a harvest if you do not give up! (Gal. 6:9)

Love in Christ,



Kristen Maddux said...

that was beautiful and encouraging. This concept is so "easy," but difficult to live out. I am so thankful God promises to never waste our pain. It brings purpose to know He is working when life looks differently than we imagined.
Thanks for sharing!

Jenifer Smith said...

So very true, Kristen. I too am thankful that God will never waste our hurts. We may not always understand His ways, but we can trust in who He says He is and know that He will never leave us to go through it alone. Thanks so much for your comment, and I pray you have a beautifully blessed week!