From the Valley

Often the life of a Christian is described in terms of peaks and valleys. This description of seasons of life has many roots and can be seen as far back as Scripture itself. The most widely known passage of Scripture using this language is Psalm 23. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”

So what is a valley?

The dictionary defines a valley as:

a low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it.

A low area. So if we are talking about a valley of life, then we are referring to a time in life where we are low. Maybe finances are hard, or we lost a job. Maybe we aren’t living up to our potential, or have made some mistakes that have us dealing with consequences. We all have these low area’s in life, we all have seasons where we are in a valley.

The flip side of this picture of life is a peak or mountaintop. A peak is defined as:

the pointed top of a mountain

The top, the highest. In life, these are the times when we can’t be any more successful. We have the perfect job, finances are going great, we are content because we can’t climb any higher. To think of it in less worldly terms, a peak can also be just a time when we are close to God. Maybe your relationship with Him is at an all-time high. I think peaks are rare in life. If you just think logically about it, not a lot of time can be spent at the peak, the top. Something will come up, the unexpected will happen and you will be placed into a time of transition.

Transition.

This is where I think we spend most of our time not only as Christians but just as people. We don’t spend the majority of our life (hopefully) in a valley. And we can’t spend most of it at a peak. It reasons then, that most of the time we are in transition, either climbing to the peak or descending to the valley.

But today, I want to write to you from the valley.


If you know me, you know that my life has been in what I would describe as my greatest spiritual and literal valley I have ever experienced. Fifteen months ago, I was placed on “unofficial probation” at work. I was working for the children’s ministry at a large church in Texas. This ministry was mind boggingly (← not a word) large, and I had the privilege to supervise the Kindergarten-third grade weekend ministry. 30 day’s later I lost my job due to an unrelated issue. I could go on and on about how I thought there was a lack of grace in the situation, that it was unfair, and even un-Christlike to end my time there the way they did. But to be honest, I broke a rule they had. It doesn’t matter if it was small. It doesn’t matter if I think it was insignificant. I did it. And therefore they were and are 100 percent justified.

That day, that moment, walking into the office for a meeting on my calendar, seeing an HR employee sitting there with my supervisor waiting for me to fire me played in my mind thousands of times over the next 12 months. I had been on shaky ground, on the way down from the mountain top I had been on in my life. But at that moment, I fell all the way down, to the bottom of the valley. And it hurt. 

I was left with what I felt like were all pieces to a puzzle that I had no idea how to put together. The next 12+ months would be full of depression, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, and a lack of vision for what God was doing in me and through me. There were days when I questioned my calling as a pastor. There were days when I questioned my salvation, God’s love for me, and his affection for me.

When I got to the point where I couldn’t keep doing it all on my own, I went to counseling, and toward the end of that year, started taking anti-depressants. Counseling didn’t fix what my wife had desperately tried to fix over that year (though it helped) and in the end, whether I was just on the wrong medicine or the dosage was broken, the anti-depressants made things a lot worse than they did better.

Just so you don’t think I’m painting a picture that isn’t true, know that there were days when I was ok. I still loved my wife (though I didn’t do a great job showing it). I loved my son dearly and he was the source of a lot of my affection and true joy. I still attended church. Didn’t hate God. But a giant part of me seemed to be missing. The job was taken away, and I couldn’t replace it. So all my insecurities came to the surface. I was broken.

Let’s revisit that definition of a valley.

a low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it.

Typically with a river or stream flowing through it. 

I love when Webster helps make a point. The definition of a valley includes that it typically has a river or stream flowing through it. A source of life for all those who live in the valley.

Without taking an immense amount of time and making you see what I went through to get there, what I finally understand about valley’s is that they don’t have to be a time in your life where everything is bad. And that they can be, and often are the times in our life when God really speaks to us. Because even when we are in the valley, there is a small stream or a raging river giving us life.

I recently bought a book called “Valley of Vision”. It’s a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions, and let me just say, it’s beautiful. I have only had the book for a few days at this point, and my understanding of what God is doing in my life has been growing for a few weeks. But when I cracked the book open on Saturday when it was delivered to me the opening prayer of the book hit me like a sledgehammer.

Here it is.

THE VALLEY OF VISION

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold
thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart, is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime starts can be seen from
deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter
thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my depth,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Re-read that.

Does it hit you as hard as it hits me?

I spent a little over 12 months wallowing in self-pity. I woke up every day with no purpose, went to work, came home, went to bed, then did it all over again. Were there moments of happiness? Yes. Were there good things? Yes. But my life was defined by being apathetic to the calling on my life and looking for anything but God in my circumstance. I blamed the Church, I blamed my ex-supervisor, I blamed myself. What I never did, was turn my eyes upward, and look at my kind, loving, gracious Father and simply trust that HE knew what HE was doing.

I walked through the valley every day, without thinking to look at the GIANT stream of God’s goodness that flowed past me every day. It took good faithful friends, a wife that didn’t give up on me, and just some really cool signs from God to open my eyes.

I realize now that I need work. I need some really practical parts of my life to improve. I need to accept that just “being me” isn’t really enough to get by. I need to correct my faults. I realized that my devotion to God had become formulaic and uninspired (also it had become non-existent during the bad months). I realize that my identity had shrunken to a job title, rather than understanding that my identity can’t be found in anything other than the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Today. I’m in the valley. But I’m not stranded there, hopeless, helpless, curled up in a ball waiting for a predator to devour me. I’m camping here, drinking from the river that flows through it. I’m waiting patiently for the day God tells me to start climbing up the mountain again.

But until then, I’ll be in the valley of vision, and doing my best to listen to what He has to say to me while I’m here.

5 thoughts on “From the Valley

Add yours

  1. This blog brought me to tears, this part the most: I’m camping here, drinking from the river that flows through it. I’m waiting patiently for the day God tells me to start climbing up the mountain again. I am so thankful to God that you have noticed the stream and your eyes and ears are focused on Him. We love you so much. Also, if you find yourself needing some more reading while you are camping out check out Soul Work: Confessions of a Part Time Monk by Randy Harris. Love you D.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Britt. I have a long list on my “too read” list but I will add it :).

      I’m certainly not “there” in my journey of understanding this season of life, but i’m beginning to understand that I don’t have to understand it all. Faith is trusting that God understands and has a purpose. I’m starting to get the purpose, now it’s time to dig in, focus on Him, and let Him do his work.

      Love you too!

      Like

  2. Once we let pride down and begin to let God He helps us focus on finding our truest self. Get ready for a fun ride in the stream. ❤️

    Like

  3. Saw this quote on the side of a concrete truck the other day – “You think concrete is hard? Try life without Jesus Christ”

    Now that’s hard!

    I pray for you Darren, that God will show you his will for your life. That the Holy Spirit will work in your heart to strengthen your faith. No matter what season of life you are in, I pray that God turns your eyes to look up at the peak, where there is Jesus, lying there on the cross, bleeding, paying the penalty for your past, present and future sins. That nothing on this earth – no job, no person, not even the devil, can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

    I look forward to subscribing to your YouTube channel, let me know when it is live. 😉

    Like

    1. Thanks, Justin! I definitely need those prayers all the time! Some day’s it’s easy for my mind to drift and wander to places I’d rather not like it to.

      I don’t know that I have the personality for the vlogger world but if I ever change my mind you know who I’m coming to for tips 😉

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: