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Day 16 – Oh, Sweet Valley! – Part 1

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass. He leads me beside the quiet waters. He makes me strong again. He leads me in the way of living right with Himself which brings honor to His name. Yes, even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of anything, because You are with me. You have a walking stick with which to guide and one with which to help. These comfort me. You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need. For sure, You will give me goodness and loving-kindness all the days of my life. Then I will live with You in Your house forever.” Psalm 23 (NLT)

“Oh, I’m going through a terrible valley right now”.  This is a statement that is often used by believers to describe a time in life where troubles abound, faith is questioned, struggles are too much to bear, etc.  I think we Christians have given the valley a bad rap.  Why are valleys so terrible?  Psalm 23 gives a completely different picture of a valley.

The picture is fields of green grass, peaceful waters, strength and refreshing, comfort and feasting, and living with God forever…this is the valley.  One little mention of some sort of vaguely defined death shadow and the valley gets a reputation of death, sadness, heartache, and depression.  This is not the picture that is painted.  And yet whenever we go through seasons of struggle, pain, or confusion, we immediately associate it with a valley.

I am not a geography buff, a scholar, or a shepherd, so my thoughts stem from my very limited understanding, but I do have the internet!  I researched pictures from the 4 main valleys in Israel – Elah, Aijalon, Sorek, and Lachish.  They all have a terrain that appears fairly easy to navigate on foot, and thus lead sheep through. From the pictures where the flocks in Israel graze, I noticed that the land was flat, green, and grassy.  Many valleys have a river running through them making them ideal places to settle. For instance the valley of Elah has the Jordan River running through it, where Yahweh took His children in order to bring them into the Promised Land. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a valley is defined as “an elongate depression of the earth’s surface usually between ranges of hills or mountains”. There is usually steep mountainous terrain on either side.

I believe it is time we redeem the valley!  I am proposing that when we go through those times that are confusing, terrifying, troubling, or just plain uncomfortable, it is actually the journey in between the valley and the mountaintop that we are experiencing, not the valley itself.  The climb up the mountain is physically challenging, and the descent down can be treacherous.  From the mountain top we can look out and see the landscape clearly, but the journey up and down that mountain can be confusing; not seeing either the top or the bottom.  With no clear cut path to guide us we begin to wonder if we are going in the right direction or if we are ever going to make it. Oh, but the valley! The valley is a level place with refreshing water and sustenance!  A table is set before us with an overflowing cup!  Goodness and mercy, the presence of Jesus, comfort and peace are all there!

Jesus, I long to dwell with you in the sweet valley!  Thank you for bringing me to the low, level places where I can be refreshed and renewed as I commune with you.  Thank you for meadows, and still waters, and banquets of Your Presence!  Let my eyes be fixed only on you Jesus when I am in the valley.  Give me deeper revelation of the valley, and bring me into intimate encounters with You there.  Amen!

— Kristie Shuman

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