Jan
27

With God in the Valley

By

valley of shadow of deathRecently I’ve been pondering how God leads me, at times, into the valley of the shadow of death, where life is uncertain, the terrain is difficult, and it’s just downright scary at times.

Well, you might say, “God doesn’t do that.” Uh, I beg to differ. The Psalmist David, the one God Himself said was a “man after my own heart”, invited us to explore the reality of walking in that valley. Job, who was called “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil”, certainly walked through the valley. Jesus Himself was “driven into the wilderness” to be tempted, and on the cross he faced the greatest darkness, as he took my sin and your sin and the sin of all humanity on himself and cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The mysteries of human suffering are beyond our grasp, and yet God invites us into them. While I do not believe that God causes evil and I understand that all evil and pain in the world are a result of the work of the enemy, I do believe that God uses human suffering to change us.

In the valley, we struggle and grasp for answers. We wish we could explain the workings of God and the workings of evil in neat theological boxes and all the while God is whispering to us that it’s not so much understanding that we need but a releasing of our need to understand.

Yes, God wants us to learn through our struggles and our suffering. Yes, God wants to give us insight, but beyond that God desires to lead us to the point where we can trust Him in the midst of our suffering.

Frankly, I’ve flunked that test more times than I’ve passed. Oh, I passed lots of easy tests. The true/false ones. The fill-in-the-blank ones. But the essays! How I’ve hated those! The ones where I have to process through and come to a conclusion.

Yet learning to trust God is a lot like those essay tests; a long and purposeful journey. Trusting God is a lifelong process. While I may be quite comfortable trusting God in one area of my life, I may find that I am completely unable and often unwilling to trust Him in another.

And He knew that before He invited me to come into relationship with Him. He didn’t require my perfection. He knew my story before it began to be written. Through my story, He pursues my heart, wooing me to Himself. He challenges me to open new areas of my heart to Him. He asks me to live in the mystery.

The work of God in me is “inside out”. I may be able to fake most of you off. You might spend an hour with me and think I’ve got it all together. You might even attend my church and think I’m a super Christian (you know what I mean, the ones with the S on their cape). But nothing in me is hidden from God. My times in the valley expose the depths of who I am and what I really believe about God, life, and myself. God is able to handle the truth about who I am and where I need to grow. He is committed to lead me into that truth, enabling me to face my own personal truths with His Spirit, and giving me extravagant grace to change.

Sometimes the changes are easy, but often they come like winning a war, one battle at a time. The battles leave me wounded at times. Scarred. Limping like Jacob, but if I find what God is offering me, I leave the battle with deeply understood truth about who I am and who He is. Such truth leads me into new levels of trust. Surely such a God who would walk with me through the valley, correcting me at times, comforting me often, is worthy of my trust!

My journey is much like peeling an onion, layer after layer of my resistance, my need to control, compare, and compete, get peeled away and I become more able to face the naked truth about myself and my life. I can live in the paradoxes. I can live in the mysteries, and I can say with the Psalmist David, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I know you are with me.”

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Comments

  1. Deb Colston says:

    Thanks so much Mikki! You are a dear friend and I wanted to just take the time to thank you for your words, and especially your prayers for me. May the Lord continue to grow us in Him and in His ways for us! I love you precious Sister-in-Christ!

  2. Judi says:

    Mikki,

    I agree one hundred percent! I love the song, “Blessed is Your Name,” especially the part about God giving and taking away … it all has to become an offering to Him. Isaiah 40 has been my mantra through the wilderness; the Lord promised to go “through” the fire, flood, whatever with us; not around, not over, not bypass…through. Of course with the thought of “through” comes the idea of getting past whatever … glorious!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart! Love you!

    Judi

  3. Tina Kasmeier says:

    Mikki,
    This is a wonderful and painful truth that you have written. This hit me in my soul this morning. Im learning more and more about who he is and who I am. May the Lord continue to pour out his desperate love on you!! I love u….

  4. Oh Thank you Mikki for the word. Just the other day I was thinking of that. I feel like I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But as I am here and things dont seem to be going the way we thought they should go. I have feared. But now as I think… I am constantly crying out to God. Probably not enough but as I do, I see his comfort ,I feel his comfort and I do see the dawn, it isnt bright enough yet for me to see clearly and know that I am coming out and up but, the comfort of His Presence and the quietness of his voice it comforts me and the Glory and His Presence envelope me …………..Oh how he loves me.
    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord for he is good!

  5. Susi Harbour says:

    Hello my sweet friend! Here I am in my new
    Location at my new job, having a valley sort
    Of a day. I thank you for reminding me that:
    I am not alone in the valley; God’s love
    Strengthens me in the valley, there is redemption
    In the valley, and God has a purpose in the
    Valley. Jesus, grant me a valley victory!!

    Love you Mikki,

    Susi

  6. Kristy says:

    Hey Mikki…put really well…and very timely for me…I’ve started “The Gospel According to Job” by Mike Mason (again) I recommend it if you’ve never read it…actually is best used as a devotional…Thank you for your heart-sharing…love you, Kristy

  7. Terri Wardlaw says:

    Whoa! Living in the mystery. I am going to ponder that one! That is so so true! God I want to trust you..grace to trust you more! He loves us so…and we are fixing to see that in new ways because we are willing to walk, limp, roll in a wheelchair, we are still moving… He provides us a banquet table in the presence of our enemies…in the presence of our struggle…and he feeds us from His table..what we need… He is such an amazing God! I am in such awe of Him… and my vocabulary doesn’t flow like yours…but your release brings my spirit to release this! We need each other! thanks Mikki for sharing! ! I love you!

  8. Marie says:

    Mikki. Well, good teacher, and true faced friend, you’ve given us another wonderful lesson. I’m taking notes so I pass (through the shadow) next time:
    Trust Him in the suffering to change me. Release my need to understand. Live in the mystery. Know that he’s with me. Got it! (or I’ll keep reviewing my notes….).
    Love eternally, Marie

  9. Sandra Harper says:

    I battle the valley often and I thank you for helping me see that that’s ok as long as I know who is with me in that valley. I’m thankful you have this ministry and gift of writing and putting our “stuff” in perspective with the Father as the mirror. I love you!

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