WHAT IS A VALLEY?
A valley can be a rock-filled chasm, a gloomy canyon, a deep gouge, or a rugged gully. In nicer terms, it might be a grass-swept dell or a lush basin. Ahh! Just the place to lay down and nap.
But what is meant when people indicate they’ve reached a valley?
If it’s a smiling hiker stating they’ve reached a valley, other people surmise they’ve just descended from gorgeous heights, to walk on flat land between mountain slopes. There might even be a cool stream weaving its way through the length of a lush, green basin.
But what if the person is not a smiling hiker or healthy explorer? What if the valley is actually circumstances in their life?
Those types of valleys can be gloomy and long, especially if someone is alone or even feels there is no one who understands. Health issues can create a scary valley, which many must walk through. All they can do is peer upwards—but not climb away from problems. Their eyes observe what looks like strong people standing on top of mountain peaks or hiking toward glorious summits.
The best of circumstances might seem to reflect off other people—giving them a surreal appearance of never-ending health, powerful strength, and awesome abilities … even if it isn’t true.
While hiking the trail of life, we humans often want to turn around. But then, hopefully, we regain courage and push toward the summits. But is that always the way it goes? No.
Many lag behind, struggling to climb out of steep valleys, while using the wrong path. Are their loads too heavy to carry? Are their backs bowed—indicating a weakening of resolve? Will they slip and tumble backwards, while others continue to watch?
A willingness to help, may mean removing loaded backpacks, ignoring pride, and getting down to the other hiker’s level. By reaching, someone might be able to grip their wrist and pull them up. Yes, the rescuer might meet a confused gaze—a look asking why anyone would care? But, then again, lonely people just might recognize God’s love in action.
That’s all that matters. And, of course, the dazed hiker may dust themselves off and just hike away, never acknowledging a helpful gesture. But the lightness in a helper’s heart will tell them … God is grinning.
Yes, that’s what was implied! God might have a grin on his face!
Perhaps, He takes delight in puzzled expressions, when loving people try to help others, and it just doesn’t work out. He knows all about rejection and about the inner sadness it can create. But, God also knows everyone’s heart, and he loves the fact that someone is willing to face rejection. It shows how far someone is going to follow Him. And only He knows who might be pulled out of a valley … if just one person steps forward.
God created unique stages of life for all living creatures, plant life, and humans. This is apparent with butterflies.
For instance, the Monarch butterfly starts life as a light-colored egg, the size of a pinhead.
You can turn over a slender milkweed leaf and spot the random eggs adhered to the leaf. But it doesn’t take long before a tiny, striped caterpillar emerges. It is very small, but it grows rapidly as it munches on milkweed leaves–chewing at a very fast pace.
Take the time to bend close to a caterpillar and watch it gobble up a leaf. Even that stage of their life is amazing.
But most delightful is when a butterfly’s wings are ready to take on unique drafts of air and strong winds. Butterflies don’t usually jump from branch to branch with gentle flutters, or with repeated attempts at flying, as a baby bird might leave the nest. Instead, a butterfly just takes off flying, sometimes soaring upwards in loops and circles toward the tops of trees. It’s like a flight of joy.
Of course, that fast flight may keep them from immediately being captured.
Compared to God, we humans are tiny. After birth, we don’t jump into the role of an adult human–physically, mentally, or spiritually.
There are stages of growth in our life, and not everyone proceeds at the same pace. And that is so true about our spiritual growth! Some people have the advantage of being schooled from birth, taught about God, taken to church, and encouraged to attend a Christian college, etc.
But not everyone comes from a family who encourages spiritual growth.
God understands each person’s unique situation. He calls people to come to Him and experience life to the fullest. And spiritual growth may come in small steps, as we learn and believe.
We aren’t going to swirl to the top of a church steeple and have all we will ever need of God’s love and forgiveness. We must learn to walk through the stages of growth in our spiritual life, while depending on God and older Christians to guide us with each new situation.
God is good. He stays with us.
Please, leave your comments below! Have you experienced stages of growth in your life? Please, mention a couple incidents. Remember, your comment may help another person!
~Karen Campbell Prough
Sometimes danger hides in how we, as mere humans, handle situations without God’s help. Many things are better left untouched, because when we proceed without seeking wisdom, pain and distress can be the result. People suffer all their lives from unwise choices and jumping in where they shouldn’t be. They reach and mess with things best left alone. Beautiful framing can hide a lethal bit of poison.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there can be a different set of problems. Life has risks but refusing to step beyond our enclosed world will limit the wonders that God set in place for humanity to experience and share. There are things in this world that scare people and turn out to be harmless. We can compare it to the fact that some unfamiliar creatures of nature might appear disgusting but can transform into a token of wonder and beauty.
So how does this reflect God’s love, when it comes to reaching out to others—perhaps those that aren’t so lovable or approachable? It can be scary. We need wisdom.
Wisdom and the request for God’s guidance can keep us on the right path. Not all the hurts in people’s lives will be erased. But that should not make us withdraw from contact with this world. Should we prevent rejection by keeping to ourselves and hiding God’s plan for man? No. As a human being and God’s child, we cannot foresee what a changed life may look like by our willingness to touch someone’s life in a good way. A beautiful thing may develop.
The plan of salvation is a second step. First, we must make contact. One action or word of comfort, in the name of Jesus, can promote a change in those around us. It will let them see that God’s salvation can be inviting, not scary or unobtainable for them. Our acceptance of others lets them see the possibility of them being accepted by God.
And so, we must step up to help those around us. But perhaps some of us need help today—a bit of reassurance—or words of encouragement and wisdom when we think about this subject. It can be frightening to reach out to others in this day and time. This world is splintering and fraying along the seams of human life. One scripture comes to mind: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 KJV
Another translation says, “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do … ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” James 1:5 NLT
Helping others is what God wants us to do—so that part shouldn’t have to be hashed over in our minds. For most of us—it’s the need for wisdom in what we say. But prayer, ahead of time, gives us strength. And remember, actions speak louder than words. Quickly responding to someone needing a helping hand doesn’t have to be proceeded by a thought-out prayer. Being aware of God’s nudging at the time is what fulfills our responsibility.
By asking for wisdom from God, it is easier to reach out and help others—no matter what they look like, what their circumstances, or how frightened we might feel at that moment. Remember to use wisdom but be willing to step out. God gave us the gift of wisdom, and we should be careful where we tread and how we present ourselves to others, but we should never neglect to be God’s example of a changed life.
Thank you for reading this post. Please scroll down and leave your comment. Your thoughts are appreciated. What have you done for God lately? How have you shown love to someone? Every little bit helps in today’s world. Pictures of the scorpion (not a poison one) was taken at a barn in Bell, Florida. I captured it off a wall, by placing a green-tinted drinking glass over it. And then I took pictures. I thought it was a neat results. Did you see what was on the back of the scorpion? Pictures of caterpillars and butterflies were taken of butterflies to show my grandchildren how they hatch.
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Imagine a group of people standing in front of the two photos of old windows included with this blog. There would be a variety of opinions about the colorful presentation on the glass. Some people would consider the paintings quaint, clever, beautiful, attention-grabbing, or a work of art. Other opinions may edge toward dislike.
But no matter how much you like them or dislike them—what you are looking at is a fake. The drawings are representing something that isn’t there—isn’t real. There are no curtains. There is no vase or pretty flowers.
At a glance, the paintings make the world think they are genuine and give the house that lived-in look, an indication that happy times still exist. But they don’t. The pretty, painted windows hide emptiness, disrepair, shabbiness, and promote a lie.
How does this compare to life and people? Some people are a work of art but they are empty inside. Others put up a fancy front and hide hurts. A bold outward appearance may be a cover for insecurity. A jolly laugh might screen depression. The list goes on.
It’s very difficult to learn how to discern what is really behind the established faces. But as we get to know people, we can catch a glimpse of the pain, rejection, and hurts behind the make-believe. God loves the person behind the façade. He doesn’t just look at the outward appearance. The Bible urges us to look beyond the pretense and see the real person, the troubles, and the hurt. God’s word tells us to love everyone, not jump in with rags to clean them up. We can’t assume we have the ability to scrub their grief away, attempt major changes and overhauls, or redo them to suit our standards.
Behind the fancy painted glass there may be emptiness, but you can help fill it with hope and a better life. Ask God to give you the ability to discern when a careful painting is taking the place of a real face. We can express God’s love to those around us by reaching out to them and giving of ourselves.
Please scroll downward and leave your comments. Otherwise, how will I know you came to visit?
~Karen Campbell Prough