by Glynnis Whitwer
I live in a valley. Every direction I look there are mountains. Living in the West, my family also vacations in mountains. Because of that, it seems I spend lots of time in valleys. One truth I've learned is if you keep walking, you will eventually get out.
One summer we took a trip to Southern Utah, with a stop at Bryce Canyon. It was warm outside, and it only got warmer as we headed down into the canyon. It was a great hike as we circled the interesting rock spires called hoodoos. We wound our way down the valley with steep mountains on all sides. After a while, I was hot, tired and ready to sit do wn and relax.
As I rested on a rock, I looked up at the canyon rim, wiping salty sweat out of my eyes. It looked very far away. I wished for a shortcut to get out, but knew there wasn't any. Short of calling in a helicopter, there was only one way out, and it was to walk across the valley and up the mountain. Sitting there on that rock might give me a moment's rest, but it didn't get me out of the valley.
I've also been in other valleys: those of fear, worry and hopelessness. I'll be honest. When I'm in those valleys, my inclination is to sit. Fear paralyzes me. Worry straps itself to my feet like weights. Hopelessness misconstrues reality so I'm blinded to the truth. And so I stay, planted firmly in the valley of misery. Over and over, I review how others have hurt me, and forecast possible fearful outcomes. None of those choices gets me out of the valley of misery. In fact, they get me nowhere.
What does get me out of those difficult valleys is when I keep wal king, and walking to me is when I keep praying even though it seems like my prayers hit the ceiling. It's when I keep reading my Bible, even though the words seem to have less meaning. It's when I keep going to church or a small group even when I'd rather stay home. It's singing songs of worship, even though my heart isn't soaring with joy. But when I keep doing those things, I take steps toward truth and eventually get out of the valley.
Walking through a valley to me means doing the things that are healthy and God-honoring, even when I don't feel like doing them. There is always a way out of a valley. But it means I have to keep walking, then climb a mountain, and that takes work. But when I do the work, God rewards me with a breathtaking view.
Dear Lord, please speak to my heart in my darkest valleys. I need to remember that You are the truth, and not my circumstances. Help me have the strength to do the right things, and not stay planted in misery during a time of difficulty. I long to be out of this valley. But I will praise You now at the bottom and I will praise You from the mountain top – for You are worthy! In Jesus' Name, Amen.