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.
A path through the woods meandered along the shaded stream and beckoned to me. My feet followed the unspoken promise of discovery. I failed to understand what tugged at my heart and compelled me to climb the irregular steppingstones toward the hint of sunlight.
An opening in the woods fanned out, inviting the hiker, the innocent passerby, and the curious to pause and catch their breath. I follow its irresistible summons—fueled by my imagination and the warm invitation to return to a former place and time.
I needed harmony and a slower pace to life. Inner peace had gotten lost in everyday duties.
An old homestead waited near the pines. The cabin stood gray, moss-tinted, and weathered, but the shaded porch drew me toward its promise of comfort. I rounded the corner of the building, and my hand caressed the sun-warmed logs.
Unripe berries hung from the nearby fence, a pledge of abundance in the future.
I stooped to pull weeds at the base of the porch, their prolific runners tangled among the “settler’s roses”. Vibrant blooms graced the sturdy canes. As the midday sun warmed the rose petals, their old-time fragrance filled the air, and provided a picturesque background to an old hitching post.
The porch steps became my sanctuary, and I pondered the presence of the astonishing roses. I wondered whose hands and fingers had planted them. Were they gnarled fingers, twisted and trembling with a lifetime of hard toil? Or were they the delicate and unlined hands of a young bride?
I lingered on the wooden steps, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the peace and quiet. But time does not wait, and I soon stood—to bid farewell to a gentler time in the past.
My steps took me away from the tranquil moment, but my heart grew lighter. The load I carried on my shoulders fell away. The image of the simple roses and the green stained logs followed me. They lingered in my mind, and reminded me to return more often—to think of the generations who have lived before me and had sought God’s comfort.
Ahh, perfect advice. Seek a portion of quiet comfort—a place and time that is special to your needs, as when the scent of roses lifts the burdens of the day.
Find time to remember.
“Remember the days of long ago; think about the generations past. Ask your father and he will inform you. Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you. Deuteronomy 32:7 NLV
Thank you for stopping by and reading this post. I hope it gave you the longing to go back and realize God’s promises are meant for you and those you love. Bits and pieces of the past helped make you the unique person you are today. God can give comfort, which covers and erases the wrongs in our lives. And if we need his forgiveness, we can ask without fear. He can create a new person in us, a person filled with inner peace. Go back, find a place of peace, take your family with you, and bask in God’s love.
The pictures used in this blog are from two different trips to the mountains. The cabin pictures were taken at the Foxfire Museum while vacationing with friends. The rest of the photos are my pictures of roses and exploring I did on my own, during a trip to a writer’s conference. Walking around by yourself and visiting buildings that house the past can bring a different type of connection to a forgotten time period. You have no one to talk to. Only your thoughts give weight to what you see and feel. The hush of a wooded cove, the wind in the trees, and the echo of your steps on a wooden porch cause you to imagine the voices that once filled the air. Life moves on and we can only tread where time leaves its mark. But the moments of peace and reflection can be worth the time spent. We are not the only generation who has walked this earth. So many have gone before us, but we are reminded to remember the days of long ago. God was with those in the past, and he cares for us. He also cares for the future generations … the ones who will walk where we have set our paths.
“We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD.” Psalm 78:4 NLV
© Karen Campbell Prough 2014
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