Valley Floors.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"I believe every heartache and hardship, and the profound loneliness such things bring, has a back door. They allow us entry into a communion with Christ we don't usually experience in our days of ease and song. Most of us have had our deepest encounters with Christ not on mountaintops, but in valley floors." - Mark Buchanan

The beauty of the valley floor. It is unlike any other place in the world. If you lay down on the valley floor and look up, you see the whole of the mountains that surround you. It is hard (it is a long way to the top of that mountain). It is brutal (it is painful as you lay down on the floor of the valley wondering when you will escape to the tops of the mountains). It is exactly what I need. It strips me of all that I want and shows me what I desperately need.

I am laying down on the valley floors, looking up towards the peaks of the mountains, yet I have come to love and know the purpose of the valley floor. It is cultivating in me a drive and a desire to know Jesus even deeper. To rid my soul of the things that I do not need, making clear the things that I desperately need. To not only know and understand scripture, but to have a passionate desire to simply sit with God's Word and meditate on what He is showing me in the precious word to me. He wrote me a love letter and I am failing to see it as such. A letter written to me... written to you.


LESSONS FROM THE VALLEY FLOOR
(this is only a small part of my long list)

1. Restored Passion. Maybe my passion was never really there in the same way that it is now. I know that it has never been this way before. It is what this lengthy blessing of living in Ethiopia has given to me. It as if I have been completely unaware of what I have been missing. This passion and desire  to sit with God's word, meditate on what He is showing me. In the darkest places of this journey I have viewed scripture with an entirely new passion and desire. This time of the "valley floor" has set a course for a unique condition that nurtures things that are hope for and the assurance of things unseen.

2. I am not enough. I am not enough and that is the way that it is supposed to be. I have had so many conversations with friends assuring them that they are enough, but I have been wrong. The truth is, we are not enough. We need Jesus. We need Him to completeHe is our enough. If we are enough, we have no need for Jesus. He gives us far more then we can handle so that we have a chance to turn to him and fully embrace him. HE ALONE guides and directs us to who he wants us to be. I am not enough, but Jesus is enough. "But we are not enough. We are not God. We don't have all the answers, all the wisdom, all the strength, all the energy. We are finite, sinful beings. And that is okay." (Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen) It is not simply enough for me to acknowledge that I am not enough, I have truly been challenged let go of that feeling that I have something to prove to people. It has been one of the hardest lessons I have learned through these last 6 weeks.

3. Silence is hard. I cry out. Scream. Pray. Silence. God seems completely indifferent to my hurting. He stays silent. He leaves things the same. Unchanged. Difficult. Frustrating. This silence has strengthened my faith instead of tearing it to pieces. I often feel beaten and discouraged, but it is strengthening who God has been molding me to be through this process. Faith is built in the silence, created in my soul a faith that wants to know and understand Jesus. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 This is the heart of silence and waiting. It is the molding of clay that God does in our hearts and souls. God's promises in scripture are true. They will be fulfilled, even when I cannot feel him move in my current situation. I will not lose heart in the silence. God is fighting. God is moving. I am assured of this as I continually read Exodus 14.

4. A vision in progress. Standing on the mountain top near the end of a valley in Ethiopia I was struck with the fact that I was on emotionally/spiritually on the floor of that valley. Looking up. With only the dreams and hopes that my heart and mind can muster up. So in my crazy mind, I imagine that this valley is where I lay, looking up at the mountain tops, the clouds, and allowing my mind to dream. I am a dreamer. With crazy big ideas that often scare my husband to death. I have the heart of a wanderer. I would love to live in a foreign country, learn a new language and tell people about Jesus. I am not sure how this plays out. It's my vision in progress. God is definitely doing something deep in my heart as I sit here in Addis with more time on my hands then I will likely every have every again.

5. I found my project. I was told that I needed a project while I waited to get my exit paperwork in order to leave Ethiopia. There is an immense amount of wisdom in keeping busy when waiting and having a project to keep you busy. I found a project. A "project" I should have figured out a long time ago. I have desperately thrown myself into reading and studying scripture. Why am I constantly trying to keep myself occupied with things that are trivial? Why do I fill my time with great things that distract me from Jesus? Just WHY? Of course those fun projects I do at home are amazing, but they rob me of my time that I could be spending knowing more about Jesus. In these dark moments on the floor of the valley, I know that I need to have my "project" be knowing more of Jesus. I have spend time in Colossians, Philippians, and various Psalms as I have processed having gratitude and joy at all times no matter the circumstances that God has placed before me. It has reminded me that I need to fill my time with more of Jesus and less of the things that distract me from Jesus. The thing I continue to process is how to keep this my "project" when I got home. How do I remained consumed with Jesus?

So here is my question for you, the thing I would love for you to process, what is God showing you that you are missing? I am reminded that I have missed so much. Focused on the wrong things.

Are you on the valley floor looking up? That is the greatest place to be. It is the place where we desperately recognize that we need Jesus. In the waiting we see God molding us, growing us in the darkness, shaping us in the waiting, and reminding us of our great need for a HIM ALONE.

Debre Libanos, Ethiopia
Near the Portuguese Bridge


2 comments:

  1. I'm so thankful to read all that God is doing in you. I'm sure He is also working in your kids and Todd in different ways. Praying for you all continuously. Hugs from Apple Valley. 💗

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your beautiful writing!

    ReplyDelete

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