In my next couple of entries here, I will be sharing where I’ve been, since some of you are asking, and what I've learned of God along the way.
Where have I been? I’ve Been In The Valley
For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
84How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
4 How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. Selah.
5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
7 They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
9 Behold our shield, O God,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
I've been through some very long, deep, dark valleys these last couple of years. I've known fear, shame, heartbreak, loss, anger, and pain so great that I didn't think I would ever recover from it. I've felt as if I was living in an alternate universe and questioned my own thoughts, sanity, and even my faith. I made some of the biggest decisions I've ever had to make with little or no approval from my friends, those I went to for counsel, or family.
I went against "the grain", allowing myself to be in vulnerable positions but holding to the hope and promise that God had spoken to me, in prayer and by other means, about my situation.
When you face life's battles, you will get well-meaning, It-makes-sense, I-can-show-you-in-the-Bible-advice from those who love you and care deeply for your welfare. Even though I loved them for it, I knew that God was leading me in a different direction and that no one but me would have to live with the results of my decisions. Therefore, I had to make sure I obeyed God at all costs.
(In Acts 20, a similar thing happened to Paul. Those who were in the Spirit warned him of the dangers he would be facing if he went to Jerusalem but Paul knew in his spirit that it was the will of God to do so, even though much hardship and even death might await him.)
You see, 39 years ago my heart "found a house...even Your altars, O Lord of hosts." So even in this valley, I sought His voice and He spoke very loudly to me. He truly was my sun and shield in ways I had never known before.
I passed through the valley of Baca (weeping) and my tears became to me a spring. As one translation puts it, I DUG DEEP and found "a pleasant pool where others find only pain." With each step I took, I could say "Jesus is with me. I will not fear. I can trust Him” even though my knees were wobbling and my heart was trembling.
He took me from strength to strength as He gently guided me through the valley and into the light.
When my foot slipped, He caught me.
When my faith waned, He quickened my embattled spirit and refreshed my weary soul.
And when I finally said, "Lord, I'm done, I can't do this one more day", He said, "Ah, finally, I've been waiting on you to get your hands completely off of this situation so that I can do what I promised you." And He did just what He said He would do. Praise His Holy Name!
And that was the lesson that He wanted me so much to get. Although it was the hardest time of my life and one I never want to repeat, I would not now trade it for anything easier.
I learned that there are some things that the Lord can only get to us when we're in the valleys of life. We have to let go of all that we think we possess. I learned to treasure His workings by focusing on His Person instead of the problems. He put every part of my faith to the test. He picked my life apart. I didn't always pass the tests the first time, but fortunately, the Lord allows re-takes and He's a great study partner.
I learned that God is TRULY GOOD. HE IS! It was a process. I had to get to the revelation that 1. God is good. 2. God is good to me. 3. God is good at being God. (Thank you, Lysa Terkeurst)
No longer do I say it but in the back of my mind think, "Well then, why is this happening to me?" He's always up to something good even in the midst of the turmoil of life and the attacks of the devil.
As a Christian, you might be saying "DUH, I already know that." But for me, I found out that profession is not possession. It's not until life implodes that we truly find out what we possess as Christians. I thank God for all that I can possess in Him and that when I needed it, He got it to me. I'm not the easiest of students, but He is patient and LONGsuffering and eventually, the light came on in my stubborn heart and joy flooded my life.
I no longer fear valleys nor do I see them as I once did. He will always give "grace and glory" to those who walk with Him, no matter what path He has chosen for you to walk.