I recently read a statement by Oswald Chambers that made me pause and think:
“We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.”[i]
I’ve stood near the top of many mountains breathing in the crisp cool air, memorizing every detail, storing away the tinkling of cowbells far below, singing songs of praise to my Creator, all the while knowing that eventually I would need to turn around and begin the descent.
“Oh, how I wish I could stay here longer,” I moan to myself, “I never want to leave!”
But either my shortness of breath, triggered by asthma, or the warning of a tour guide that they will be leaving soon breaks my lofty reverie and I regretfully make my way to the waiting gondola. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a mountain goat skipping effortlessly amidst the craggy rocks. If only…
But, like Mr. Chambers says, I am not made for life on a high mountain. Instead of being equipped with surefooted hooves, my feet were designed for the valley. And that is exactly where God wants me to spend the majority of my everyday life. It is there that I must face
- the busyness of my schedule
- the mundane task of ironing endless shirts and pants
- making yet another trip to the grocery store
- crawling up a hill in my car stuck behind a pay loader
- comforting a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on
- dealing with anxiety over an unexpected piece of mail
- wondering how to vote in the upcoming provincial election
- feeling sorrow over the crisis in Syria
- spending many hours studying and preparing for our women’s ministry
Some time ago I read the allegory, “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. It is based on Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ (deers’) feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” (NASB)”
Much Afraid, the main character, is tired of living in the Valley of Humiliation and dreams of going to the High Places to escape the demands of her life. As a crippled sheep she cannot even hope of achieving such an aspiration until the Shepherd invites her to come with Him. The journey is treacherous, hard, and full of temptation, but with the guidance and help of the Shepherd, she finally rejoices in reaching the High Places. Once there, however, she looks down to see the Valley of Humiliation. She discovers her attitudes toward her family and neighbors have changed. Where she had once felt shame, rejection, persecution, and pain at their hands, she now realizes she longs to understand them better. She desires to help them find peace in knowing the Shepherd and ascending to the heights as she has. Only in descending from the High Places to the valley below does she find her true place in the service of her Shepherd.
She concludes, “Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world, where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound so that we may let you teach us so to react to them, that out of them we can create lovely qualities to live forever. That is the only really satisfactory way of dealing with evil, not simply binding it so that it cannot work harm, but whenever possible overcoming it with good.”[ii]
On our recent trip to Hong Kong, one of the greatest thrills was flying 35,000 feet above the High Arctic somewhere over Baffin Island. As I stared at the frozen expanse below and squinted in the blinding sunlight, I marveled at the fulfillment of my dream to see this vast corner of the earth. I returned to my seat giddy with excitement and began to write in my journal,
“How cool is that! Just looked out the bathroom window and saw the frozen far north below! I always wanted to see the arctic – absolutely beautiful!!”
However, I know God does the best work in my life when I am living out my life in the valley. That’s where I come to know Him more intimately, trust Him more implicitly, and experience the fullness of His faithfulness. That’s where joy is at its greatest depth!
Until next time,